24 Hours in Paris | A Paris Travel Guide

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It’s been a while since I last mentioned anything Parisian on the blog. After living there for 4 months I think I needed a bit of a break. Well it’s been several years since my last visit, but last week I found myself in Paris again. The problem? I only had 24 hours! You know me, whenever I visit somewhere I like to do as much as possible. That’s a given. I also like to share my adventures with everyone on my blog…

So here’s my Paris travel guide to help you through your 24 hours in the City of Love!

paris travel

24 Hours in Paris: A Paris Travel Guide

  1. Stay at: The Pullman Hotel, Eiffel Tower
    • Not only is the location amazing – it’s right next door to the Eiffel Tower! I dare you to find a better view from a hotel window.
  2. Have breakfast at: Cafe Kitsune, Palais Royale
    • If you’re anything like me, then you need a coffee to get you going in the morning. What better way to do this then in the gorgeous surroundings of Palais Royale. You’ll find Cafe Kitsune hidden in the 17th century arcade, with seating in the gardens.
  3. Take a photo at Les Deux Plateaux (Colonnes de Buren)
    • This controversial art piece is only a minute walk from Cafe Kitsune – I do like to make it easy for you, don’t I. Whether you’re a fan or not, this candy cane-esque installation leaves an impression. It’s pretty popular with locals and tourists alike, thanks to being so damn Instagrammable.
  4. Have lunch at: Aki Boulanger, Rue Saint Anne
    • This Japanese-French bakery-cum-cafe boasts some delicious treats, and is only a 10 minute walk from Opera metro station. You’ll find plenty of savoury and sweet food, all with nods towards the French location, and Japanese heritage. Think matcha mille-feuilles.
  5. Walk around Avenue de l’Opéra
    • It’s a beautiful part of Paris, which features some amazing architecture, and plenty of cafes and stores. Galeries Lafayette and Sephora are also nearby, and are a must-visit for any beauty or fashion fans.
  6. Have dinner at the local brasserie
    • You don’t get much more French than a brasserie, and luckily they’re an affordable way to try some decent, traditional French food. You’ll find them dotted around most streets. Chose the one with the bevy of Parisians sat outside, take a seat, and people watch.
  7. Stay up and watch the light show
    • After dark, the Eiffel Tower lights up every hour, on the hour. It’s a spectacular sight, and well worth waiting up for.

Feel free to leave your own Paris recommendations in the comments.
And don’t forget to check out my other travel posts.
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Tokyo Coffee: Where to Go | Japan Travel Guide

tokyo coffeeTokyo Coffee: Where to Go | Japan Travel Guide

One thing I love to do when I’m abroad is discover new cafes and coffee shops. It’s one of my favourite little luxuries at home, so to do it whilst travelling is a welcomed pleasure. So when I headed back to Tokyo this year I knew I had to find the best places in town. Luckily for me, my good friend Alanna and her husband are coffee fans too. Being the wonderful people they are, they curated us our own Tokyo coffee tour.

Below you’ll find my suggestions from the coffee tour we did together, and a couple I’ve thrown in myself.

Tokyo Coffee Tour: Where to go

  • Onibus Coffee, Nakameguro
    • Visit here if… you like your coffee with minimal fuss, and a chilled vibe.
    • With 4 locations in Tokyo, Onibus is no new name to the Japanese coffee scene. In fact they’re doing so well that they’re making waves in Europe too; they just got back from Berlin, and a collaboration with Bonanza Coffee.
  • Toranomon Koffee, Toranomon
    • Visit here if… you love chemistry, and minimalist surroundings.
    • Toranomon coffee is all about the chemistry behind coffee. They love experimenting (the lab coats are worn for a reason) and are well known for it. You can find them across Japan, and even in Hong Kong.
  • Coffee Valley, Ikebukuro
    • Visit here if… if you care about fresh, simple ingredients.
    • Coffee Valley isn’t that well known, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t popular. The cafe boasts queues for it’s fresh coffee, and delicious food. Don’t worry though, it’s worth the wait!
  • BiRd & rUbY, Sendagaya
    • Visit here if… you want to hang out somewhere unique and cool.
    • Bird & Ruby is tightly nestled in the middle of Sendagaya, on a cross walk, opposite a traditional shrine. Yep you couldn’t get much more Tokyo than that (the perfect mix of old and new). Offering up coffee and paninis, you’ll look effortlessly cool as you sip on your espresso, and flick through the latest issue of Popeye.
  • Sarutahiko, Shibuya
    • Visit here if… you’re out shopping and need a coffee fix.
    • Sarutahiko has a few locations in Tokyo, but the Shibuya branch is a great location if you just want to get away from the hustle and bustle. They have a great selection of coffee, and are super enthusiastic.

Feel free to share your favourite cafes in Tokyo in the comments!

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

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Aoyama Flower Market Tea House | Tokyo Travel Diary

Aoyama Flower Market Tea HouseAoyama Flower Market Tea House | Cafe | Map
5-1-2 Minamiaoyama, Shibuya, Tokyo

Have you ever walked into a place and just been taken aback by its sheer beauty? That’s exactly what happened to me when I first walked into Aoyama Flower Market’s Omotesando branch, during my recent visit with Nicole. The flower shop is well known, with outlets across Japan. However this particular location is nestled in amongst the high-rises of Aoyama, and only a minute walk away from Omotesando tube station. Perfect for my inner mori gal.

Aoyama Flower Market Tea House: Concept

The concept behind Aoyama Flower Market’s tea house is quite simple; a greenhouse. Yes, it may sound boring, yet it’s anything but. Think blooming flowers, ivy crawling along the walls, and a botanical inspired menu. That’s exactly what you’ll find here. The idea of “living with flowers everyday” was on the mind of AFM’s interior design team when they opened this plant haven. And boy did they deliver!

The Menu…

The menu here is pretty simple in terms of ingredients. You’ll also find alternating seasonal specials, which are based on particular flowers or holidays. As you can imagine most dishes are vegetarian and vegan friendly, however there is the odd meat dish on the menu; for those who just can’t go without. You won’t find any coffee on the menu either, only tea. So how did I get on as a coffee-loving, meat-eater?

  • Sakura Plate – Special
    We visited during sakura season, so naturally the menu reflected this. Not surprisingly you can often find cherry blossom flavoured (slightly reminiscent of rose) products and dishes at this time of year. This dish in particular included sakura jelly, chiffon cake, sakura ice cream and cream with meringue “mushrooms”. I personally loved the taste; subtle and sweet, with a nice mix of textures. This dish was perfect for me!
  • Fresh Mint Soda 
    Gimme mint any day! Normally I drink a lot of mint tea, but I decided to cool down with something slightly more refreshing – and fizzy – this time. I was brought some optional syrup for my drink, which I didn’t add. However it’s perfect for those with a sweet tooth. I didn’t get a photo of my soda, but I did snap one of my friend’s mint tea, which was just as pretty!

Final thoughts?

This is a popular place, so be prepared to wait. As a Londoner I don’t mind doing this, in fact it’s second nature when it comes to finding a decent restaurant. To be fair we only waited around 20-30 minutes, but you may need to stand if the few waiting chairs in the cafe are taken.

If you fancy some time away from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo, Aoyama Flower Market Tea House is an incredibly relaxing, comforting spot to visit. From browsing the store for plants and flowers, to enjoying some sweet treats in the restaurant, I really enjoyed the food and atmosphere here. I’d definitely recommend it, and it’s certainly somewhere I would go back to on my next visit to Japan.

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

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Find Your Epic in Pembrokeshire | Wales Travel Guide

wales travelFind Your Epic in Pembrokeshire | Wales Travel Guide

This year I took a long weekend away from London, and headed over to the beautiful rolling hills of Wales. Before my recent trip, it had been several years since I’d last been to Pembrokeshire. Even so, it had left a lasting impression on me, and it’s undoubtedly my favourite place in the land of the dragon.

Wales Travel Guide: Pembrokeshire

Fans of Cereal magazine will remember the feature they did on the Pembrokeshire coast back in Volume 2. It was a nice article – and it was great to see a feature in a respected publication – but part of me felt a little let down. It painted Pembrokeshire as a barren, grey location. More likely than not to fit the aesthetic of the magazine, but still. With some of the clearest waters you’ll see in the UK, and some of the cutest villages to match, there’s so much more to it.

Wales Travel Guide: Where to Stay/What to Do

  • Stay in St Brides Spa Hotel in Saundersfoot – The modern hotel has the most spectacular views, which you can enjoy from various angles. From eating breakfast on the balcony, to swimming in the infinity pool, or dining on the terrace. Views aside, the spa is a welcome way to up your relaxing holiday. I’d recommend the Voya Salty Fucus Luscious Body Scrub and Massage.
  • Eat at Beachside Barbecue – I never thought I’d find American barbecue in a Welsh seaside town, but life has it’s way of surprising you. And I was not disappointed! If you love authentic American BBQ – brisket, burnt ends and all – this is the place for you! I’ve been dreaming about their meat and sauces ever since…
  • Take a boat trip along Ramsey Island with Voyages of Discovery – I suffer from sever motion sickness, so you know that me recording a boat trip means it HAD to be amazing. The boat trips by VoD take you around Ramsey island, through caves, up close to wildlife – did you spot my seal photo? – and more. Not to mention that they are very affordable. Make sure you ask for Judd and Jon!

Feel free to leave your tips for others, and let me know your favourite things to do in Wales.
See more travel posts here

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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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A London Life… at Kew Gardens

kew gardensKew Gardens | Richmond, Surrey | Nearest Tube: Kew Gardens | Website

Apparently us English are pretty good at keeping a nice garden. Who’d have thought? As gorgeous as my grandmother’s back garden is, there’s no place more iconic in the UK than Kew Gardens. Tourists come from all over the globe to catch  a whiff of the roses, or a glimpse of the immense landscape. Heck, even bloggers come from all over London just to do photoshoots in the Palm House. In all honesty it’s easy to see why people love Kew, and it’s fair to say that I am right there with them. The gardens are beyond beautiful, and the grounds themselves are so vast you can spend a whole day there; with several picnics, of course.

So I decided to put together a little photo diary/travel guide, for those who are as fascinated by Kew as I am.

What’s so special about Kew Gardens?

  • First off, it doesn’t feel like London – It technically is still in London, but it’s south enough – hello, Richmond – that you lose the maddening crowds and chaos of Central.
  • The world’s most famous botanic garden – Kew is known far and wide for it’s gardens. It may seem like a tourist spot, but it doesn’t feel right to live in London – heck even the UK – without visiting at least once.
  • Historic architecture – Kew is full of magnificent buildings, including the iconic pagoda, and original Victorian glasshouses (that’s conservatories to me and you).
  • Iconic plants – Of course English roses are beautiful, but Kew has a vast array of plants, some of which you won’t find elsewhere. That includes the rare Amorphophallus titanium. Yup, the one that smells like dead people.
  • It’s not all plants – There’s also plenty of art on show (such as installations, sculptures and paintings), a gift shop, cafe, and some lovely walks.

You can visit Kew Gardens at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, TW9 3AB
See more: A London Life series

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The Best Coffee in Barcelona – Caravelle | Travel Guide

Best Coffee in BarcelonaCaravelle | Coffee & Food | Website
Carrer del Pintor Fortuny, 31, 08001 Barcelona, Spain

The Best Coffee in Barcelona?

For me, coffee is vital to any holiday. It perks me up when jet lag sets in, and it keeps me going through the multitude of activities I try to cram into each day. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect of the coffee in Barcelona, but thankfully I had a guide. The BCN Best Coffee guide to be exact. The app was created by a friend of mine, whom I trust dearly when it comes to coffee & food; so I knew I was in good hands.

After doing a bit of shopping in La Rambla, I checked out the app to see what coffee shops were close by. Luckily one of the cafes I had taken note of previously was less than 10mins away. That place was Caravelle.

Caravelle

Caravelle is based in central Barcelona, and offers up a variety of artisan coffee, craft beer, and food. We stopped by on a Monday – around midday – and found a free table. The interior is spacious, with tables and bar seating. It’s table service, so no need to go up to the bar. This area is utilised more in the evening, when they serve their own craft beer.

We ordered a cold brew, an iced latte (coz 30c weather), and the French Toast. I’d read that Caravelle’s brunches were pretty well known (and respected) in Barcelona. And apparently the French toast is a must-try. Truth be told I wanted the banana bread, but unfortunately it was sold out – so I assume it’s pretty awesome. Instead the server suggested I try the French toast. I didn’t need much convincing, and I took his word for it. Luckily I didn’t have to wait too long to find out just how it was for myself.

This beast of a brunch is much taller and fatter than I’d expected. Soft toast is loaded with fresh seasonal fruit (strawberries, peaches and blackberries) and cream. Honestly I couldn’t finish this myself, and had to ask for a little help. The tart flavours of the berries mix perfectly with the soft, sweet peach and cream. You’d think a dish with this much bread would get a little dry, but the fruit sauce keeps everything moist.

Final Thoughts

Caravelle is an awesome cafe for coffee or brunch. The laid back atmosphere makes it an easy spot to meet with friends or family, or as a comfortable place to work from. I may have only had one dish, but I could tell that a lot of time and effort goes into their food. The coffee is definitely up there, but next time I’d like to try their flat white or an espresso, to get a better idea. As for service, everyone was friendly and laid back – my kinda place. Quite honestly the food and coffee here is superb, and it’s a must visit for any brunch fans…or lunch…or dinner…

Want to find the best coffee in Barcelona? Download BCN Best Coffee!
See more posts: Barcelona Travel Diary

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