the two year holiday

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Bok Dubrovnik - Part I!

When our friends from the States were planning their visit to London, they suggested we do a long weekend away.  Their only perimeters of the destination was that it was somewhere that they wouldn’t necessarily go if they weren’t already on this side of the pond and alas, we picked Dubrovnik.  Having been fortunate to be a frequent traveller in the last 15 months, I can say wholeheartedly say that this is the most beautiful place I’ve ever been.  Dubrovnik is worth the trip - no matter where you’re from.

*Old Town Dubrovnik from the City Walls

*B flying high 

*Delicious dinner with friends at Proto

*Panoramic views of the Old Town from the cable car

*The beach below from our balcony at Hotel Bellevue {not from Pinterest I swear!}

*B taking in the view from Buza II - a small and casual watering hole found through a tiny doorway in the Old Town Walls

*Changing of the Guard in Old Town

*A & B at the top of Dubrovnik following the cable car journey 

*Enjoying a digestif (or 2) at Cafe-Bistro Orlando on the Stradun 

*A & B hiking the City Walls

The Lay of the Land:

Where we ate: seafood! Croatian menus are dominated by creatures of the sea (shrimp, langoustine, mussels, clams, squid and the list goes on…) We enjoyed great meals our entire time in the medieval city and would recommend Lokanda Peskarija for a casual dinner on the harbour {book ahead and request patio table} and Proto for a more formal, upscale dining experience {request a terrace table}.  We enjoyed lunch (2 days in a row) at Oliva Pizzeria where they have a large selection of pizzas and Croatian beer.

What we drank: Croatian wine and beer (Pošip and rose were the varietals of choice) and plum brandy.  Enjoy a pre-dinner drink at D’Vino and start with a wine flight to get a good sampling of local wines.  We enjoyed post dinner drinks at Cafe-Bistro Orlando and might have treated ourselves to a few day drinks at Buza II  - a must do!

What we did: Hiked the Old Town city walls (est. time is 1 hr) and tickets can be bought right before the entrance through the Pile Gate.  Bring water, walking shoes, and go early before the heat. It is more of a walk than a hike but still a number of steps. A must do for the views),  enjoyed the beach at Hotel Bellevue, cliff-jumped at Buza II, rode the cable car to the top of Dubrovnik for 360 degree views, shopped and bopped in Old Town, and bathed in the crystal clear Adriatic Sea.

Where we stayed: Hotel Bellevue.  Great and quieter location about 1 km (15 min downhill walk) from Old Town Dubrovnik.  Each room has a patio to enjoy the gorgeous scenery and one of the few hotels with a {rocky} beach.  Breakfast was included in the room rate.

Logistics: Flew from London Gatwick to Dubrovnik (approx. 2.5 hours + time change). Cabs to hotels can be arranged through hotel front desks but we found it to be double the price if prearranged (€35 one-way) which we did through SunTransfers (est. time from airport is 30 minutes).  We took cabs following dinner as the uphill trek back to the hotel didn’t sound appealing and trip cost €10 one-way.

Yassas Santorini - Part II!

Stating the obvious, Santorini is magical.  The colours, the food, the drastic landscape, and the unbelievable sunsets make this Greek island arguably the most famous. 

*Fishing dinghy in Ammoudi Bay  

*Church on our walk down to Ammoudi Bay

*A soaking up the sun in Oia

*Stunning sunsets from our porch at Esperas Traditional Houses

*A catching a breath after the walk down to Ammoudi Bay 

*Bright flowers + white washed buildings + blue domes 

*A&B in Oia

*A few starfish a Spanish family found while snorkeling in the cove near Ammoudi Bay - don’t worry, we put them back after a quick snap!

The Lay of the Land:

Where we ate: MORE greek salad, saganaki,  soulvaki,squid, and fresh fish for days (literally).  We stayed in Oia for almost all meals and here were our favourites:

Lunch: Lucky’s Soulvakis in Fira {cheap eats but most delicious gyros}, Sunset Taverna in Ammoudi Bay [Oia]  {seaside taverna that was so good we ate here twice - for lunch}

Dinner: Ambrosia in Oia {fine dining, request terrace table}, Roka {casual taverna with no view but fantastic food}.

What we drank: Greek wine (assyrtiko is the varietal of choice) and local beer (B preferred Alfa over Mythos).  Enjoy a pre-sunset drink at Ochre Wine Bistro

What we did: Hiked between Oia and Fira (est. time is 3 hrs, approx. 10 miles.  Bring LOTS of water, walking shoes, and go early before the heat. It is more of a hike {re: lots of uphill climbs} than a walk but worth it for the views),  sailed on a catamaran with Santorini Sailing , explored Katharos Beach, lounged by the pool at Esperas Hotel, sunbathed cliff side in Ammoudi Bay, shopped and bopped in Oia, and always made sure we were in a prime location for sunset.

Where we stayed: Esperas Traditional Houses.  Great and quieter location at the west end of Oia with unobstructed sunset views.  Staff was very kind and helpful {recommended restaurants, booked tours, gave directions} and each room has a patio to enjoy the gorgeous scenery.  Breakfast was included in the room rate and was delivered to you daily which was an unexpected luxury.

Logistics: Flew from Athens to Santorini (approx. 30 min flight) on Aegean Air, which is the main carrier into the island.  Be aware that it’s ‘island time’ and don’t cut it too close when getting to the airport.  Cabs to hotels can be arranged through hotel front desks and there is a taxi stand.  We only took one cab while we were in Santorini which was easy to come by and not too expensive.

Yassas Santorini - Part I!

More snaps from the gorgeous Santorini

{yes I took them and they aren’t from Pinterest}

*A&B in Oia

*Windmill and west Oia from Oia Castle 

*Cacti and Churches 

*Akrotiri Lighthouse from the catamaran 

*A&B soaking up the sun while sailing 

*Oia at twilight 

*Santorini transport - donkeys for days

*Catch of the day at Ammoudi Bay

*B on the hike from Oia to Fira - worth it for the views!

 Yassas Athens!

Athens has always been on my shortlist to visit while living on this side of the pond to see a little bit of the homeland and take in the incredible amount of history.  I had heard mixed things but Athens didn’t disappoint - a youthful, gritty city with passionate people, delicious food, and incredible sights.

*Acropolis from The Athens Gate Hotel

*The Parthenon (with A&B)

*A&B taking our seats in The Panathenaic Stadium

*Temple of Athena Nike at the Acropolis 

*B on top of the podium at The Panathenaic Stadium

*View of the Acropolis from Temple of Olympian Zeus and Arch of Hadrian 

*B hiding from the {strong} Athens sun in the Agora

*The stunning Acropolis from terrace at Filistron

*A&B enjoying sunset {and a cocktail} at Hotel Grand Bretagne

The Lay of the Land:

Where we ate: greek salad, saganaki,  soulvaki, lamb, and more tasty taverna treats.  Had particularly memorable meals at Spondi {fine dining} and Filistron {taverna with a gorgeous view of the Acropolis at night}.  Ask to sit outside on summer nights.  Also had an easy, casual lunch at Sholarhio,  in Plaka near all the sites.  It’s a touristy tavern {was skeptical} but food was good and cheap.

What we drank: Greek wine (assyrtiko is the varietal of choice) and local beer (B preferred Alfa over Mythos).  Enjoy a pre-dinner rooftop cocktail at the very glamorous Hotel Grand Bretagne 

What we did: explored the city’s gorgeous sights and lively vibe.  Strongly encourage those who are able to hike up the south side of the Acropolis to get the full affect (approx 30-45 min, wear walking shoes and bring water).  The ticket to the Acropolis also gets you into five other popular sites (Temple of Olympian Zeus, Arch of Hadrian, Agora, Temple of Winds) which we inadvertently visited after getting lost through the historic area of Plaka.  Toured the New Acropolis Museum and stood in awe at the original Olympic Stadium.

Where we stayed: The Athens Gate Hotel.  Fantastic central location which is great for touring and rooms were nicer than expected. Rooftop bar/restaurant with excellent Acropolis views {only went for drinks}

Logistics: Flew from LHR to Athens airport and took the Metro into central Athens (approx 1 hr but very easy to figure out).  Short walk to most hotels from Syntagma or Acropolis station.

 

kelaguk:

Notting Hill Foodie Favourites

Taking a cue from MSH’s Blimey Blog I decided to draft a list of all my Notting Hill foodie favs/local haunts. As you can tell by the length of the list below, I rarely cook… but I can dial a mean takeaway!

Lunch/Dinner

  • Granger & Co (Westbourne Grove) - everything is tasty but my favs are the burger and chicken schnitzel
  • Taqueria (Westbourne Grove) - delicious tacos and margaritas; my favs are the ceviche tostada, carnitas, aguacate salad and watermelon margarita
  • Byron Burgers (Westbourne Grove) - when feeling homesick a burger + A&W root beer float usually does the trick
  • Pizza East Portobello (north end of Portobello Rd) - the entire menu is delicious but I recommend the butter lettuce salad, any of the pizzas and the lasagne
  • The Shed (Palace Gardens Terrace) - the menu changes frequently based on what’s in season so try anything - you won’t be disappointed!
  • Bumpkin (Westbourne Park Rd) - posh-er pub food, my personal favs are the fish & chips and sticky toffee pudding
  • The Ledbury (Ledbury Rd) - might as well go all out with the tasting menu + wine pairings (obviously!)
  • The Oak (Westbourne Park Rd) - delicious pizzas but my fav is the bur rata cheese and honey crostini
  • Polpo (Notting Hill Gate) - my favs are the meatballs, fried stuffed olives and octopus salad

Pubs

  • The Mall (Palace Gardens Terrace) - delicious Sunday roasts and meat pies
  • Windsor Castle (Campden Hill Rd) - nice Sunday roasts and good fish and chips
  • Churchill Arms (Kensington Church Street) - go for the thai food and summer vibe
  • The Prince Edward (Princes Square) - food can be hit & miss but a nice vibe for a drink while watching any game

Takeaway

  • Fez Mangal (Ladbroke Grove) - great turkish kebabs, my favourite is the lamb, salads are nice too
  • Mulberry Pizza (Moscow Rd) - pretty good thin crust pizza for takeaway and super-fast delivery too
  • Durbar Tandoori (Hereford Rd) - everything here is good but my “usual” is the lamb rogan josh
  • Recipease (Notting Hill Gate) - really nice meat pies, fish, etc pre-made to heat at home, delicious beetroot & feta salad too

Brunch

  • Granger & Co (Westbourne Grove) - ricotta pancakes and mimosas, enough said
  • Electric Diner (Portobello Rd) - solid range of diner food, my go to is the eggs benedict
  • Daylesford Organic (Westbourne Grove) - everything is good, love the ginger lemon steamer when feeling under the weather
  • Le Pain Quotidien (Notting Hill Gate) - great brunch selection, I usually go for soft boiled eggs and toast soldiers, perfect comfort food every time; the stuffed croissants are delicious too
  • Recipease (Notting Hill Gate) - my favourites are the Huevos Rancheros and the Croque Madame; nice coffees as well

Drinks

  • Negozio Classica (Portobello Rd) - great wine bar for pre/post dinner drinks
  • Montgomery Place (Kensington Park Rd) - proper cocktails, my signature drink is ‘Here Comes the Son’
  • Portobello Star (Portobello Rd) - good place to end an evening on a slightly messy note, fun bartenders and 90s rap on rotation, massive cocktail list but I usually go for the Bramble to pretend I’m getting my 3-5 a day
  • Kensington Wine Room (Kensington Church St) - great selection, perfect for a cozy glass of wine on a rainy night

Tea

  • Orangery High Tea (Kensington Palace) - great place for visitors, nice but not overly posh, also one of the few places to offer gluten-free and kids high tea options
  • Teas Me (off of Ladbroke Grove) - a cozy shop perfect for a nice cuppa
  • Le Pain Quotidien (Notting Hill Gate) - my personal fav is the Brussels Breakfast tea, served in a gigantic bow of a tea cup and nice to pair with a sweet treat like the berry pavlova

Fresh juices

  • Planet Organic (Westbourne Grove) 
  • Crussh (Notting Hill Gate)
  • Teas Me (off of Ladbroke Grove)

Specialty Food Shops

  • La Cave a Fromage (Portobello) - amazing cheese selection and the staff won’t steer you wrong with their  recommendations
  • Carluccio’s (Westbourne Grove) - great for olive oils, sauces, italian cookies and fresh pastas
  • Ottolenghi (Ledbury Rd) - a nice Mediterranean selection

Photos:

Churchill Arms

Pizza East Portobello

Electric Diner

Granger & Co

The Shed

Ottolenghi

Le Pain Quotidien

Orangery

Fez Mangal

Recipease

Neighbo(u)rhood Watch: South Kensington & Chelsea

blimeyblog:

Neighbo(u)rhood Watch: South Kensington & Chelsea


Inspired by my friend Killian, and the many requests we receive about the neighbourhoods and fun places to go in our own, I thought it would be fun to share some of our favourite places in our hood.

south-kensington (2)

South Kensington & Chelsea

Favourite restaurants and takeout:

Riccardo’s–Great neighourhood Italian, with lovely covered/uncovered terrace.

Kurobuta–Modern Japanese in a small, fun restaurant along…

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A great guide to the neighbourhood by MS

Perfectly captured by MS - can you tell my friends are much better photographers/bloggers than I am?!