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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A Love Affair with Italian Leather Shoes | Style

italian leather shoesA Love Affair with Italian Leather Shoes | Sandals by Lorena Paggi*

My press trip to Italy last October was something I will never forget. Discovering Fermo and the amazing artisan shoemakers of the region was enlightening. Since my visit I’ve definitely gained a new found love for Italian leather shoes, and a variety of new designers.

Italian Leather Shoes: Lorena Paggi SS16

One of the designers I visited during my trip to Italy was Lorena Paggi. Producing Italian leather shoes, bags and accessories, I fell in love with a pair of their brogues, and that was that. The brand had certainly left an impression on me. So when their Spring/Summer 2016 collection popped up on my Facebook feed I immediately clicked through. Dusky pinks, chunky heels and minimalist looks to name a few. These are stylish sandals with a difference.

Where to find them…

This is the question I asked myself…Lorena Paggi…and every social network possible, after I saw these sandals. The dirty pink shade was so perfect, and so perfectly on trend. The style is very me – minimalist, comfortable, high quality and stylish. You couldn’t ask for better. Lorena Paggi luckily saw my pleas on social media, as I desperately tried to find out where I could buy their new sandals. I can’t wait to wear these in Barcelona at the end of the month. And hopefully in London, but I don’t want to jinx this gorgeous weather just yet.

Unfortunately Lorena Paggi shoes are not available in the UK…yet! However if you happen to be in Italy or Eastern Europe/Russia, you will definitely be in luck. Keep an eye on their InstagramFacebook and Twitter accounts for more info.

Read more: Italy Travel Diaries

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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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Kyoto Shrines and Temples | Japan Travel Diary

kyoto shrines and templesKyoto Shrines and Temples | Japan Travel Diary

Before our trip to Japan we decided to purchase the JR Pass, so that we could travel around the country a little. Kyoto was definitely on our list of places to visit again, as on our first visit we hadn’t been able to appreciate the city as much as we would have liked to. Naturally I made a mental note of all the shrines and temples I wanted to visit, because when you’re in Kyoto that’s what you do…

What makes Kyoto Shrines and Temples special?

Kyoto’s shrines and temples are pretty special to me. There is a certain air of tranquility and calm surrounding Kyoto, and I think this even translates through to their tourist locations. There is so much beauty to take in around this region, and I don’t think I will ever bore of it.

Which Kyoto Shrines and Temples should you visit?

Check out some of my picks, several of which feature in the photos in this post:

  • Fushimi Inari – You may recognise this famous shrines red gates from movies such as Memoirs of a Geisha. Climb to the top of the mountain, and brag about it after.
  • Kiyomizu-dera – Featuring the famous ‘floating platform’ and a waterfall that supposedly grants wishes.
  • Kinkaku0ji/Rokuon-ji – The ‘Golden Pavilion’ is known worldwide for it’s beautiful golden exterior. Check out the amazing reflection in the nearby lake, and stroll through the garden.
  • Ryoan-ji – A must-see for any zen garden fans!
  • Saiho-ji – This is actually on my list of temples to visit. This natural beauty has a difficult entry procedure, but it sure looks like it’s worth it!

This is just a small list of temples and shrines to visit in Kyoto. However I would also recommend just wandering around Kyoto, because you will come across tons of smaller shrines/temples that are just as wonderful.

Check out the rest of my Japan Travel Diaries here.

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