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.

walk1

 

 

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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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Never heard of Folegandros in Greece?

Me neither, but supposedly it was the perfect Greek island to balance crazy, expensive, over the top Mykonos. We booked a ticket to Santorini, and then took the boat which needed 1.5hrs to get us to Folegandros. From London after half a day of travel we arrived and were ready for a few days chill enjoying Greek life.

We stayed at Hotel Odysseus in the main town at the center of the island. This hotel has a really nice location overlooking the sea possibly from every hotel window. It has an ever so lovely swimming pool and we were just a few steps away from the town center.

hotelOdys

It was this kind of island and town that after a few days you were a local at beez bar and the bar man knows your name and drink. That kind of island where you take your coffee and breakfast in the main square in the morning to start the day, and you’ll see how the fresh fish gets delivered for your meal that evening at Xrystostalia restaurant. That kind of island that seems to be perfect indeed to say hi to summer and enjoy all the Cyclades has to offer in terms of sunshine, beaches, good food and friendly people.

FolegandrosResto

For the beaches make friends with the hotel owner of where you are staying. The wind can get rough and that might spoil your day when you are on the wrong side of the island. Their advise is crucial for where you should go that day. We checked out Catargo beach which we reached taking the boat from the main port. We also went to Fira beach, which was a bus ride to Agkali town and then a bit of a rocky walk to this remote beach with the most beautiful  aqua blue waters. We also enjoyed Livadaki beach, which after the bus ride to Agkali is about taking a small boat heading to Agios Niolaos. All these beaches are pretty secluded with blue waters and pebbles.

BeachesFolegandros

If these beaches are not remote enough for you do a boat trip for the day. This will get you to some of the above beaches, but also a few others that are even less crowded and isolated. It’s a great trip to get orientated on what you’re looking for in terms of going to a secluded beach and hence what beach to go to the next day.

And also on this island we were able to find a yoga teacher to join us for a session. We convinced the hotel that the roof from one of their apartments was the best place to do this, and so we were able to get a great spot with sea view. When the sun came down we were in downward dog and saw the sun set peeping through our legs.

SunsetFolegandros

In the evening we checked out the local restaurants (try Zefiros Anemos, Pounta Garden, or Xrystostalia) and took a drink at the main square next to the church. And we often continued having fun at one of the three bars with some locals or other tourists that had made the extra effort to get to Folegandros. We had our sought after chill, built nice memories and can highly recommend spending some time here.

 

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Street art in Istanbul

What a diverse city Istanbul is! You can see that the economy is growing which brings with it a city that shows different faces. The upscale areas for the super rich, sky scrapers were work happens, and the buzzing old town where you might still see a donkey pulling the goods. And of course this means that there often also is that creative hub where designers, art lovers, and vagabonds find their like minded spirits.

SeveralIstanbul1

In Istanbul this is Kadikoy at the Asian side. If you stay at the European side you might want to take a boat from Karakoy or Besiktas for a 20 minutes boat ride to get there instead of a taxi on the always busy roads. For me it meant high expectations on a street art opportunity. And I was not disappointed.

Most of the street art that I run into was on the side of a building where a parking lot was created. It meant that the different ‘ canvases ‘ were often comparable sizes and huge!

SeveralIstanbul2

The artists splash out in their often gloomy colors and address inspiration from different elements of life, but often challenging politics and societal thinking. For example this work from the Polish artist Sepe that he created with Chazme. This looks as one of his themes that addresses that individuality doesn’t seem to exist anymore and his characters can only exist as a mass.

SEPE

Or how about this work from INTI a Chilean born artist that uses vibrant colours and draws from themes like life, death and ancient religion.

INTIRealAnd this one from Pixel Pancho, who just as INTI, is using an artist name. The works of this Italian born street artist are inspired by famous artists. The robotic figurines are another of his trademark.

INTIstreetart

And please note these others, where you will stop and wonder what brought the artist to draw what you see in front of you. Even if you want to stop for a break in Kadikoy you will find a nice spot – for example Coffee 1848 – often with a lovely street art backdrop.

1848Coffee

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