Naples as a destination

Staying in Naples for the weekend? People look at me wary wondering why I would do that. The fact that we had a friend showing us some good spots, and we are always up to beat the odds, were good enough reasons. And we were not disappointed.

Amazing architecture – indeed Naples is not a polished city like Florence, or Rome, but you can see buildings have the potential to be beautiful when they would get that bit of extra attention. And looking around you with this different eye, will make you appreciate the history that those buildings have behind them.

buildings

Good food and great drinks – anywhere in Italy we expect to get good food. As long as you look out for it. Our friend took us to La Frescheria, a great fish restaurant where you can try the traditional fresh tartare and lobster pasta. We continued after with drinks at Riot Laundry Bar and had the best night.

Frescheria

Live entertainment – in the middle of old town I went to Palazzo Venezia to have a a drink at the secret garden that is a quiet oasis in the buzzy center. When I walked in, I was surprised by an Opera performance of two singers in one of the historical rooms. It was a perfect break in the afternoon.

Venezia

Pompeii – it is one of the most impressive sides giving us insights in life before Christ (Pompeii is said to be covered by the eruption from Vesuvius in 79 AD). It is worth a visit to roam around and just imagine what life would have been at that time.

Pompeii

Madre museum – we agreed to do a mix of old stones (Pompei) and modern art this weekend and so we came to visit Madre – the Museum of Contemporary Art – before going to some of the other museums. And I didn’t regret it. The museum has a vibrant entrance and houses a great combination of Italian modern artists and well established international artists like Anselm Kiefer, Carl Andre, Andy Warhol, and Cindy Sherman. To see these next to Italian artists that I was not so familiar with was great. And then the statue on the courtyard of The Man Measuring the Clouds, sublime!

madre

Pizza – the pizzas are great I have heard. While I’m not eating cheese Pizza is often not the most exciting dish to choose. So I normally go for the pasta, anti pasta and Italian desserts. But in Naples we had to go to eat Pizza. We went to … and I chose a pizza with anchovies and rocket salad and had the waiter double confirm that he would leave off the cheese. When he came with the order though I saw patches of melted yellow stuff on the plate. I questioned the waiter, reminding him that I specifically asked pizza without cheese and without blinking an eye he said:”But that is Mozzarella”. I said:”Indeed that looks like it, did I not specifically ask without cheese?”. And again he repeated:”But that is Mozzarella”. With a few more times going back and forth and two more waiters not being able to confirm the link between cheese and Mozzarella, we had the head chef look at us also as if we were from another planet and made a new pizza for me. Which was really tasty by the way!

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Street art in Buenos Aires

I was pretty sure I shared my Argentinian street art trip with you already. But I hadn’t. And while it is a year ago now, I still have the best memories of what I have seen in Buenos Aires. We went on a stroll with a guide in the afternoon through Coghlan and saw some great pieces. In this area a non profit organisation is the intermediar to link artists with inhabitants of the area to commission outdoor walls of their house or apartment to an street artist to decorate.

Tales of the Parrots – is the name of the piece below and was painted by Argentinian street artist Martin Ron. It has different scenes from the neighbourhood and what was suggested to him over the 16 days it took for him to paint this. The word is he covered the intimates from the leading man with a parrot when a neighbour complaint.

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Alice Pasquina – is the artist who painted the dancers on the right. She likes walls that live and have different shapes. She integrated a connection with the palm tree in the background becoming part of her painting. Emotion and relations between people are the things that come back in her work all the time.

ElViaje

And how about these somewhat darker pieces. I love the one that captures the entrance to the hall with these two androgyneous persons playing the drums each with their odd animal facing them.

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Jiant – is the artist who painted the flamengo with the little house. His beak almost protects it and in the background you see the ton sur ton graphics that illustrate the visual on the wall.

FLamingo

El Marian – the painting below is from the street artist El Marian. He painted this homeless person with his dog and it has become one of the most iconic pieces in the neighbourhood. The rhino in the vibrant blue and green colors is from the artist Ice.

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Primo – is the artist name of the pieces of art painted by two cousins. The one of Joe Daley is at a place where jazz used to play an important role. The other two are just as stunning and make a great stand out in the streets.

Primo

Fintan Magee – an Australian street artist already did 3 other pieces of street art before he painted ‘ the displaced ‘ at this four storey high building.

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My current top 3 restaurants in London…

Restaurants come and go continuously in London. Probably by the time that you intend to visit any of the below they might have vanished. But if not, I would definitely urge you to try one of the three below.

108 garage – Notting Hill – the name says it all. This is a former Garage now turned into a restaurant with a rustic industrial feel. The food is the minimal style, so you would need to love that. The plates look great, and the tastes are even more exquisite. If you want to treat yourself or anybody else this is a great one for you to book.

108garage

The Shed – Notting Hill – with a bigger brother ‘Rabbit’ in South Ken they have experience with their wild food and combining styles. It is lovely to go here with a bigger group as you order different smaller and bigger plates per round and share with each other. The clunky location as an add on build to a house, properly looking like a shed, makes you feel you have detected a great restaurant in your neighbour’s garden. Do check to do a reservation.

theshed

The Barbary – Soho – don’t make the effort to do a reservation unless you want to do dinner at 5pm? That’s the only time they take reservations for, so after it is about a wait list. You are asked to take a wait around the bar which is where they will be served you dinner later on. This is the third restaurant from the people from Palomar, and The Blue Post. As you are seated around the bar you will have a close look at the chefs doing your thing giving you good entertainment throughout. The food is of the standard of their sibling’s restaurant, so make sure you come on an empty stomach.

barbary

 

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5 reasons to visit Jordan

Jordan is like a playground for grown ups. You need decent transport to get around, and then within a couple of hours you can go from culture, to relaxing, to adrenaline drive. Let me convince you why Jordan should be your next trip.

Petra tour – the treasury in Petra is probably one that might be in the back of your mind to visit one day. Get it to the number one spot as this place is amazing! After a walk in between the rocks you will get to the hidden city of Petra and the first site is the Treasury, the leading temple in Petra thought to be constructed in 100 AD. You continue your walk back in time and will see well-preserved temples, tombs, old theatres and a monastery. History preserved it so well that you truly feel how it would have been to be there at the time and live in these surroundings.

petra

Dead sea floating – we go from culture to chill as Jordan has access to the Dead Sea and you must experience what floating in water really is like. With 33% of salt in this sea (vs 3% normally), your limbs get pushed to the surface and the best thing to do is lay on your back and float. Just explaining this won’t do it, you need to try to experience this. Another amazing place to go in Jordan.

dead sea

Four wheel drive in the desert – and then the adrenaline kick. In the far South the desert takes over the Jordan landscape. Head to Wadirum and find a landscape with rock formations, stretches of red sand and a view that reminds you of when Lawrence of Arabia spent his time here. A good guide will take you to the best view points, show  inscriptions in the rocks, and get you to a sunset point that you will never forget.

4wheeldrive

Ride the ships of the deserts – maybe a camel ride is a once in a life time and when in Jordan and in the desert I think you will be able to find this bedouin family that takes good care of their tool for a nice source of income and you should give it a try. We joined on an afternoon and had camel mum and dad, camel daughter and tiny 1 month old son joining on a stroll. We had a great view, and experience being bumped up and down when striding through the sand.

camels

Eat Mansaaf – and eat what the locals eat! In Jordan the family dish is Mansaaf which includes rice, coconut milk sauce, and lamb, lots of it. It is served on the local bread on a big tray and eaten with your hands. You mesh the ingredients to become a ball in your hand and take your bite. Definitely a nice first for us cutlery driven eaters.

mansaaf

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Restaurants in Stockholm

To keep in the winter mood ….. I was in Stockholm again a few weeks ago and all was covered in snow. It was beautifully serene, but my colleagues were already a bit fed up with it. It didn’t stop me from enjoying it and taking the stroll to the restaurant that has now made it in my top 4 list.

Asian Post Office – the name gives it away: this restaurant is about Asian food. Shared in a tapas style wonderful dishes are served and get enjoyed, just to name a few of the favorites: popcorn shrimps, tuna tartar, BBQ lamb lollipop…. they were all to die for. The decoration is well thought through as every table is situated in a way that it creates a lovely intimate corner. This makes it a perfect setting for a night out where you appreciate to engage with all on your table.

AsianPostOffice

Snickarbacken 7 – maybe more for a good lunch Snickarbacken was a great ‘authentic goes hip’ place. It kept the native style to its dishes with a modern twist. And all of this in an amazing setting of an old building, with thick walls and high ceiling. But I won’t elaborate on this much longer as Snickarbacken 7 has closed and refers you know to its sister cafes kavallerietcafe or guestcafe. Check it out and let me know!

Snickarbacken

Hillenberg restaurant – But don’t worry, if you are looking for locally inspired dishes and in a sophisticated environment Hillenberg is your pick. It has a great bar area where you can get the best cocktails, and a spacious restaurant area for your lunch, brunch or dinner. You will find your lax, skagen toast, or roe all in a Southern Europe with Scandinavian twist style. Pure pleasure.

hillenberg

Restaurant J – and what could be better than go to a restaurant while exploring the archipelago a bit. This restaurant is a 20 minute boat ride from the center on Nacka Island. You will need to go here in summer as the terrace will be buzzing with locals going for a drink after work. This place is more about enjoying the environment than the food as you have a great view over the waters. But if you are into a marine style menu with oysters, lobster and burger with fries this is your place to go.

 

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In the snow!

While half of Europe is covered under a good layer of white snow fun, I’m already thinking about the next trip with a palm tree. But I need to tell you first about Alpbach, a tiny village a stone throw from Salzburg. I was there for christmas with lots of snow and blue skies.

Snow1

Galtenberg Hotel – a paradise for kids with entertainment, a kids pool and slides, but it was also pretty good for adults. On the top floor it had a full blown wellness center (children under 16 not allowed) with 4 different Finnish saunas, a lap pool and a rooftop yacuzi at the perfect temperature overlooking the mountains. I think I spent hours in there. The hotel has friendly staff, great food and is in the best location to just walk to the lifts and get on the slopes.

hotelG

The slopes – I was there with family in December and the snow was good! The area is big enough to be entertained for days doing a nice mix of black, red and blue runs. Consider the sunny side of the mountain for the morning and check with the locals about the best places to grab your launch with authentic noodle soup, germknodel, or other.

slopes

Walks – if you are with a group there might be that one that is not into skiing or snowboarding. Alpbach is also good for mountain walks. You will run into little private chapels, farms with the farmer urging you to help him feed the cows and all of that with a scenic view of the alps under the snow.

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A weekend at the sea in Essaouira

It’s beginning of November and I want to escape the hectic London life, forget the grey days and smell the sea. A ticket is soon booked and before we know it we step foot on Moroccan soil. Essaouira it is for the next couple of days.

Essaouira

Hotel – We choose Hotel Tangaro which is the perfect oasis, just outside of Essaouira. The hotel is white with blue touches and decorated with the eyes of a connoisseur. The dining room breathes grandeur and big dinner parties. The library is music inspired with Jimi Hendrix smiling at us, and his old vinyls decorating the walls. The bed rooms have all you need with an ever so thoughtful minimalistic design. Blue sky, 20 plus degrees, a nice swimming pool and great staff in addition is just what we wished for. This is our perfect base.Tangaro

Food –  Restaurant Dar Adul has the best female kitchen team and serves us the first chicken tajine after setting food in Morocco. This is made with love and sets the benchmark high. Restaurant / beach club Ocean Vagabond is our sea view go to place. While watching the dromedaries roam the sea-shore we have a sublime sardine salad for lunch.

foodessaouira

To get a feel of the Colonial grandeur have a drink at Heure Bleue Palais and feel transported back in time. The courtyard is lovely when it is nice weather or try the bar with the wood fires, leather Chesterfield and hunting trophies at the walls. Then head for your dinner at La Table by Madada which is maybe a bit touristy, but a great location if you want to have an all sea food menu. My clams starter, and John Dory fish are well prepared with Moroccan flavours.

The Medina – you can find your traditional Moroccan ceramics, carpets, sweets, and hammam towels, but also a few shops that bring their own spin to it. My favorite definitely was Minimal from Bibi. This French lady Bibi – short for Brigitte – left France after a successful career in Fashion and came to Essaouira 9 years ago. She started a Restaurant Umia and created a different life in Morocco after having turned her world upside down. Seeing the authentic crafts creating all that is to be found in the Medina she wanted to see whether she could give this a new design perspective. And so she did. She started designing carpets, table ware, small furniture, lamp shades working with the local craftsmen and was able to open a shop just 5 days ago. I could probably have bought half the shop;-).

minimal

Other shops that are nice to look out for are Le Histoire des Filles, and Boheme de Berber who also take the local flavours but add a Western touch.

Yoga – and of course find some time to stretch those limbs. Our hotel recommended Karim and he was great. Karim is the perfect Yoga teacher to talk you through your vinyasa at the beach or join you at your hotel. We had a great studio at Hotel Tangaro and at the early hours he gave us the perfect start of the day.

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So yeah, Essaouira was the perfect escape for a sunny break in the middle of November. The hotel, people, possibilities to explore and just the chance to chill made it the perfect trip.

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