Go local: a visit to Bath in the UK

Yeah, I love my travels. Hopping on a plane, and transporting yourself to a location where you find inspiration, challenging environments and other forms of living. I’m totally aware that you don’t always need to travel far to find this. In the UK take a trip to Bath and you might just find all that.

Stonehenge – half an hour from Bath is Stonehenge. A circle of big stones from between 2000 – 3000 BC is a throwback in time. It is possibly a burial ground of ancient times, and when you stand there it can’t but amaze you how different that time must have been to how we live now. Make sure to book this one in, on your way to Bath.

stonehenge

Roman baths – take a leap in time and transport yourself to approximately 60 AD when the Roman baths were built that you will find in this town. This historical site in the city gave it its name when the Romans built baths and a temple in the valley of the River Avon.

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Royal Crescent – and then in the 18th Century the Royal Crescent was built. This build of 30 terraced houses is the most iconic site in town and a great example of Georgian architecture. It is this style that is dominant all over Bath.

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And if you add to this a great range of historical streets with nice restaurants, good hotels and quirky shops what more excuses would you need to spend your weekend here instead of taking the plane to somewhere?

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About Mauritius: restaurants, beaches, nightlife and places to stay

Restaurants – Mauritian menus are often an eclectic mix to please the visitors and provide authentic dishes. So you will come across burgers and pizzas, but also their famous sausages, curries, and amazing seafood. In Grand Baie where I spent most of the time I found a few restaurants that I can definitely recommend. Le Capitaine is the up scale restaurant that offers this great mix, but if you want to go low-key and eat some great lobster go to Puchon in the center of town. La Botteghita is your place for great Italian food, and for the American vibe go to The Beach House. And don’t forget to check my favourite Visite Privee Restaurant, which just opened a few weeks ago and is a great place, with wonderful decoration and superb food.

If you want to really indulge yourself and feel pampered go to 20degrees Sud hotel for great cocktails, lovely food and service at their colonial restaurant. On the West coast at Belle Mare area, I would need to recommend The Plantation, with amazing sea view in The Residence resort.

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Beaches – the beaches in Mauritius are amazing! White sand, the blue-est waters, and the best palm trees. But where to go best? The North is supposed to have a bit less rain in general, so that could be your base. The beaches are either public (with entrepreneurial locals providing sun beds) or private beaches with hotels. The private beaches are often accessible against a day rate. One to recommend is Lux resort, there are two on the island in the North. I tried the one at Belle Mare beach and found that the service is great, the spa is wonderful, and they will for sure have secured some white sandy beach for you. For public beaches Mont Choisy is a good pick or Trou au Biches. You will join and find a local that has sun beds, and truck food in the shade to support any food or drink request you might have. If you are in the South try to visit Shanti Mauritius, which is a wonderful private resort, again accessible for a day rate. It has some great restaurants and service to your sunbed at the beach.

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Hotels – I stayed at a lovely apartment in Ocean Villas in Grand Baie in the North. There is a hotel adjacent so the advantage is that you can join the hotel facilities, but you are free to do so. It has a private beach which is lovely if you don’t want to bother driving around to find a good beach. At one of the next beaches you will find Mystik Hotel which is a bit more funky. It has the best rooftop bar, nice restaurant, swimming pool and a modern look and feel. If you want to go more traditional, and you have a budget to afford 5 stars check out 20degrees sud. This is a lovely colonial hotel with great service and on the beach.

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Nightlife – There is nightlife in Mauritius that is to recommend to enjoy. As I spent most of the time in the North, Grand Baie, the recommendations are mainly in this area. Note that most of nightlife is happening on the weekend kicking off on Thursday. Go to Banana Beach Club for life music and a nice mix of locals and tourists. If you want to continue after there are a few options, for example club Les Enfants Terribles. This club is mainly frequented by locals and opens from approximately 11pm, and can have some great DJs on. It has a few rooms and a lovely outdoor area. Then you have OMG, and Insomnia/Vintage, where you will find an Asian crowd and popular music. But if you just want a chill after dinner, check the roof top bar at Mystik hotel for some nice tunes. I loved this one!

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5 hard to find speakeasy bars in London

Being aware that my follower base for these blogs is still pretty low, I’m not afraid to disclose my favourite speakeasy bars in London and risk overcrowding;-). These five are all what you wish for: unique, hard to find for people not in the know, authentic, great service, and lovely drinks. So please check these out and join them on your next visit to London.

The Vault – Milroys – SOHO – Milroys is a whisky shop/bar in Soho with an elaborate collection of whiskies. But it is more like a shop than a bar, and when this comes recommended you wonder whether this is indeed the place to go. And then you walk to the back where you see a wall all covered in books and a sign pointing to a button. When you push this button, the bookshelf opens up and discloses a hidden staircase to the basement. This is where The Vault is and where you will see a lovely speakeasy bar, with great service and lovely cocktails.

thevault

Opium – Chinatown – This bar in the main street for Chinatown is also not revealing their entrance openly. On 15/16 Gerrard Street you need to ring the bell, or engage with the door men who seemed to be randomly standing in front of this Jade door. You will get up a few staircases and enter to the main bar with adjacent dim sum restaurant area. Over a few floors you will find a few bars and hidden rooms where to hide away with your best friends or lover. You will find that this bar offers a cocktail menu which will inspire and good choice of dim sum to add if you fancy a bite.

Discount Suit Company – Shoreditch – the name alone is worth a try, and it seems indeed taken from the original purpose of the building, with the name scattered amongst the facade as an advertisement. It is in the basement that you need to go, and will find the hidden gem of a bar. The bar is nice and cosy, serving great drinks and some nibbles.

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Purl – Marylebone – The word purl refers to an old English drink consisting of warm ale, gin, wormwood and spices. Expect that English feel and a warm environment to hide for a few hours with friends. The cocktail menu is really strong and if you join on a Wednesday you might be surprised by some live jazz music. I suggest as with pretty much all of these bars to make reservations before joining. In these bars the attention that they want to give to customers and the limited space, will mean that they will monitor closely the people allowed in.

69 Colebrooke Row – Islington – this is the only one of the five which is on a ground floor. It exists since 2009 and feels like you walk into somebody’s living room. You need to adjust first to the dark environment, but you will feel at home straight away by the environment and the great hospitality of the staff. It has won several awards throughout its lifetime and it shows with any cocktail or drink that you order.

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These are just a few to consider. I can’t imagine that it will take long before I will do another one talking about ‘the next top 5’. Don’t hesitate to share me yours;-).

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8 hours in Dallas

A US city with over a million inhabitants, known for oil, cowboys and an 80s soapseries, what should you do here when you have a few hours to spare? There are a few things that I can advise you to go and do.

Knox Henderson – this area in uptown North Dallas has a few streets with quirky boutique shops in what seems a quiet neighbourhood. And note we are not talking big brands here, but a vintage clothing store with the most extensive collection (Vintage Martini), a colourful shops with all things Central America (La Mariposa), an art shop for local artist (Art is Art), a furniture store (Nest), and clothing /concept store (The Gypsy Wagon), and much more. Meanwhile you can take a break in the lovely restaurant Sissy’s and enjoy a nice lunch.

dallasshops

A local meal – you can be swept of your feet with an amazing fusion meal at the Reunion tower. On the 65th floor this upscale Wolfgang Puck restaurant with a rotating floor that slowly makes you see Dallas from all angles, serves Japanese style food with some local dishes. But if you want to go Texas style go to Bob’s Steak house, one of the premium steak houses in town that will serve you everything Texas.

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Street Art – the walls of Dallas are decorated with a great mix of street art and vintage advertisement that bring back old times. Look up and you will see a different side of Dallas.

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Yoga in Mauritius

Total zen comes to you when you enter Mauritius and see the pristine beaches, smiling people, and tropical heat. But to make it even better there are some great yoga places to visit. I’ve checked a few in the North of the island and can share them with you.

Yogahouse, Mapou – in the setting of the grounds of Chateau de Labourdonnais there is a secluded block that provides a spacious yoga studio, a spa area, reception house and lush garden. The pop-up juice bar is there to support with fresh juices from 9am till 1pm. Yogahouse has an extensive schedule of yoga classes and has a wonderful ambience to enjoy classes during your break. I took Vinyasa and Hatha classes with Pauline and Nathalie and enjoyed it a lot.

yogahouse

Grand Baie Gym and Spa – this facility has a few yoga classes during the week. I visited them one day to check the schedule, but it turned out that the period I was there all teachers were on holidays. No luck for me, but the premises looked lovely so please check it out for me when you have a chance.

Paradise Cove Boutique Hotel, Anse la Raie – again on the West coast in the North I found this boutique hotel that provides morning yoga classes on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. This five-star hotel created their mini cove with a small beach, and big garden full of palm trees. In this garden, under the palm trees is where the yoga classes take place. Joanna la Gesse is the teacher that gives a Hatha /Vinyasa class depending on the energy levels and the experience within the group. Starting at 8am it is a perfect way to wake up and prepare for the day.

yogacove

Shanti Maurice, St Felix-Riviere de Galets – coming from the North and flying from the South of the Island was a perfect excuse to pass by Shanti Maurice, spending the day in their resort and take a yoga class. The resort is lovely, the food is as well, and the private yoga class was an experience. Part of the day package for the resort I enjoyed a mix Hatha-Vinyasa class. They provide group classes as well, so check out their online schedule. Being close to the airport it was the perfect ending to a lovely break.

shanti

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Mauritius? Is that not just about beaches?

When visiting Mauritius you probably envisioned a tropical break with lots of beach. As the beaches on the Island are white and magical you won’t be disappointed. But there are a lot of other things to do. Let me guide you through.

Vortex – this place in the South of Mauritius is noted as one of the 13 places in the world which has an elevated source of Energy, and is perceived as a healing centre for body and soul. Through meditation at this location rebalancing of energy levels will happen and give you a positive effect. My friend with whom I was travelling came with this knowledge and we joined this sacred place for the afternoon. It was the first day of our holidays, and I’m not sure whether it was the Vortex or the fact that it was the start of a relaxed holiday, but it certainly felt good to take a minute and rethink intentions for this week.

vortex

Catamaran trip – we stayed in Grand Baie for the majority of the trip and used one day to do a trip to Ilot Gabriel, a small island in front of the coast. The trip on the boat was wonderful, floating the blue waters and soaking in the views. The little island had wonderfully white beaches and was a perfect spot for some snorkling to see beautifully colored fish. We went back to the bay area in the afternoon and spotted a giant turtle on our way back to top of this trip.

catamaran

Yoga – on this trip I found some nice yoga places. I really enjoy starting the day with an early yoga class before breakfast and before the rest of the world wakes up. I wrote a blog to inform you of the ones that I appreciated during this trip.

yogahouse

Horse riding – because I had yoga in the morning we decided to do a horse riding trip at 10am straight after. Not a good idea… Being there in mid summer, with temperatures above 30 degrees, it is pretty hot on a horse at this time of day. So when you do book one, don’t consider any time between 10 am and 5pm. Furthermore horse riding is a nice way to explore a bit of the island.

These are a few of the things I did, but in addition you can do kite surfing, visit the waterfalls, explore the botanical gardens in Pamplemousses, do a city trip to the capital of Port Louis and go diving. Yes, Mauritius is about amazing beaches, but if you’re there for a week there are some great other things to do as well.

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Street art in Mauritius

Being frequently in East London where street art turns that neighbourhood in an open air museum, I always keep that extra eye open for any form of visual street decoration when I travel. The same when I visited Mauritius in December. While I didn’t have the chance to explore the city of Port Louis where there are some nice pieces, I did run into some lovely ones when frequenting the beaches in the North.

Anse la Raie – when you take the road that follows the coast line all the way up to the North, there is this abandoned building that became the canvas for a wonderful piece. You see this cartoon person floating in a hammock in the clouds, as if to lift you from the real world. It has some great colours and provides a perfect backdrop for any photo shoot if you would ask me.

cartoonmauritius

Grand Baie – in the commercial area of Grand Baie, in the North as well, the tattoo shop in Town has a vibrant red piece on their walls. It lures you in and gives you energy straight off that wall. In the adjacent street, a more modest visual, as like a sketch, can be detected on the first floor above a clothing store.

grandbaiestreetart

And then in that Grand Baie area when you visit one of the Marinas this building pops up with an amazing arty decoration on one of the balconies. It screams at you and at the same time it is a subtle interaction with the environment. I think it is the perfect decoration for this building amidst the boats surrounding it.

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Cap Malheureux – at one of the bays in the North you will find a shrine almost touching the waters. In addition to the worshipping sculptures the walls of this small building are decorated with religious paintings. Not sure whether I’m offending anyone by calling this street art, but the scene with the water in the back is beautiful. It highlights the different cultures and religions that you will find in Mauritius.

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