‘The magic of Old Dubai’

‘Finding understated magic in old dubai- Al Bastakiya’

Al Fahidi is the historical neighbourhood also know as Al Bastakiya in Bur (old) Dubai that shows the middle east in a more traditional sense. Since most of Dubai is all about grandness, modernism, sky scrapers and a somewhat artificial surroundings, Al Bastakiya is a step back in time into the 19th century. The little village dates back to 1980s and is made up of beautiful winding streets originally built by Iranian immigrants who needed housing. Most of the village was destroyed in the 70’s, but still the remaining allows you to be captivated by the peaceful beauty of it all. The art district area fills with museums, cafes, little shops that sell rugs, spices and all kinds of ornaments.

Before exploring the old quarter, allow your journey to begin at the quaint Arabian Tea House that leads you into a secret garden with flowy white curtains, white rattan chairs and turquoise benches. My husband and I wanted to start the day bright and early so we arrived to the tea house just when it opened creating a luxuriously tranquil setting, just a few people and the birds chirping gently in the apple trees. We loved the place so much that we later came back for lunch after exploring the spice and gold souks. We ordered the most fragrant jasmine tea that burst into bloom as it sat in the water long enough, a cup of gahwa (coffee in Arabic) flavoured with cardamom and fresh dates with tahini. It felt like a middle eastern dream that set a dreamy mood for the entire day, surrounded with wind towers, stone architecture, spilling trees and the sound of the prayers echoing from minarets in the background. Dressed in a well covered all white silk gown, a sleek bun with henna rising up my arm, we allowed the Arabian culture to take us under its spell.

The old Dubai is significantly important and exciting to explore in the midst of modern infrastructure as it sheds light on the lifestyle of the people before the UAE was formed. It is a far less glamorous side, but magical and full of charm with its understated beauty. I loved observing the arches and designs in the architecture and exploring the antique shops. We purchased a beautiful tea/coffee set that now sits in our showcase in the kitchen. Since then I have made many golden milks infused with ginger/cinnamon that bring me right back to Dubai.

We purchased some darling leather slippers from the spice souk and because of this tea house, I became obsessed with these coffee/tea cups. I ended up purchasing beautiful porcelain cups with gold detailing that I found from a kitchen store from the mall.

Happy New Year ♥

As the year fades away into a blank canvas, tomorrow brings a new start to a hopefully, amazing and unforgettable year! I wanted to end the year with these peaceful images from the desert in Dubai, taken during the magical golden hour. It seems the desert sunsets are larger, wilder, more silent & more certain, which also sounds like the perfect motto for 2019. Wishing everyone love, kindness & prosperity ♥

Mind at rest over morning coffee

‘Apulian mornings in Masseria Palombara´

Dawn is a different kind of dark, one full of possibility that captures the satisfying silence and beginning of a the day.  It’s a moment to experience no rush, even if you’re not busy. The camera loves a peeking sun behind the trees, the soft light makes its way for the AM debut. We are in Puglia, in the beautiful countryside of Oria surrounded with almond and olive trees where your mind is at full rest. You feel connected to nature in an environment like this, there is no noise of traffic and your body feels at rest. I can hear the chirping of birds while I have my first cup of coffee in hand and see butterflies looking for sweet nectar and the new day feels like a fresh start. My hubby and I are really similar when travelling, we love to experience new things and love to start the day bright and early when the golden hour is amongst us and maximise the time. We could never lounge by the pool for many days straight! Apulia is beautiful in the mornings, the countryside erodes to life, farmers are already hard at work and breakfast is being setup in the masseria. I hear sheep in the background and even smell the delicate fragrance from the flowers around us. I hear, for breakfast we will have ricotta beetroot toast, freshly squeezed fruit juice and homemade yogurt… sounds just perfect. But now, another sip of coffee before the day begins.

 

Palombara Poolside Relaxation

 

‘sipping on tea & lounging by the pool’

Lunch is eaten in the shade on the cutest wooden tables that range in all antique hues from light pink to grey. The staff simultaneously fit into the atmosphere with their linen garments, whom all are incredibly friendly, full of southern hospitality. After a few laps in the pool and lounging on the sunbeds, lunch is served. Freshly picked tomatoes with burrata, traditional mussels or baked cod-fish, lunch is refreshingly simple yet elegant, washed down with some dry white wine. I sip on espresso in the shade and have more tea by the pool while dipping my feet in the water enjoying the warmth. The poolside is lovely and calm, perfect for getting lost in the pages of a book and letting go of whatever is going on and falling into complete relaxation.

The younger labrador ‘Joy’ was naughty and snuck into the pool when no one was watching, yet I thought it was the cutest thing ever and gave it tones of kisses on its wet face. Moments like these give Palombara the right amount of ” homey” feeling, it’s cozy, almost like a little family. poolside never disappoints here…

 

 

 

Masseria palombara exterior2 (1 of 1)

 

Masseria palombara exterior9 (1 of 1)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Charming Uzes, the foodie town

‘Charming cozy town of Uzes is a gastronomic dream’

In all of Provence, I had my favourite escargot in La Parenthése that were soaked in a vibrant green parsley jus and the best morning market experience. I love the ambiance in Uzes, it is cozy and untainted by tourism that much divert to famous places like Gordes or bigger cities like Avignon. You can listen to the beautiful french language as local tourists enjoy their pale rosé, much whom have gathered to Place aux Herbes, the town square. The town revolves around the main square that spills with restaurants and little boutiques all beautifully surrounded by oversized 100 year-old trees. The fountain in the centre not only is tranquil for the eye and a pigeons bathing spot, but also restaurant owners golden retriever, likes to take an occasional dip there.

The streets are calm in the morning, pastel coloured shutters begin to thrust open after a night of being fastened and the smell of coffee invites us to a cafe. Despite it being warm and hot during the day, we see a few leaves making their way down to the ground embracing the first signs of fall. Just having arrived from Southern Italy that showed no autumnal signs, Provence is slowly bringing out down jackets and knitwear and harvest is nearby. Pumpkins are out and porcini is much used on the menu and figs are at their best. Gingerbread-like doors open up to darling boutiques, locals carry baguette in hand and Uzes begins another beautiful day for us to explore. These photographs allow me to look back and soak up the ambiance of the town, remember the smells of regional food, see the architecture & history and all too quickly the faded experience becomes a warm memory of our Provence road trip.

Love Start your morning in one of the many side walk cafes, such as La Fougasse or chez cerise sipping coffee from antique cups and breakfasting over flaky croissants or french pastries. The salon-like pastry bars, much like you will find in Paris are buzzing with locals conversing over marmalade pastries and black coffee. And don’t worry, you are able to find some savory options too, if you are like us and can’t handle all the sweetness in the morning! Uzes is great for people watching and just enjoying the quintessential Provence moment, that can easily keep your eyes wandering for hours. Wicker basket at hand and panama hat on, love all the tiny pathways of the town that lead you to the cutest shops.

Enjoy the food. The town has plenty of Michelin star restaurants despite being small as the town, so this place will feed your taste buds to its full potential. I guess Uzes (although a bit bigger) reminds me a little bit of Montefalco, in Umbria as both are full of restaurants and have a certain respect for food.

If you have had lunch in another town, make sure to grab antipasti before dinner in Les Terroirs (town square) to make most of the local food. Share a rustic paté and a glass of red wine to work up your appetite. It you are staying for lunch, stop for a vitello tonatto in A coté over an afternoon rosé and make reservations for dinner on the top floor terrace of La Parenthése, a Michelin star restaurant overlooking the sunset. We stayed in Uzes for 3 days and another spectacular restaurant is Le Bec a vin. We were seated in their cozy courtyard and make sure to try either the boeuf or tuna tartar.

Other restaurant options: La Table d´Uzés, L´Artemise &Ten

Wander Explore Uzes by foot and get lost in the limestone streets. Stay during the weekend because of the markets on saturday and sunday. Shop for lavender soaps, home scents other than Fragonard and try some lavender ice cream as you walk down the winding streets. On market day, by spices and sample on the cheese and cold cuts and refresh the palette with the sweetest oranges. Uzes makes a great base to explore other cute towns like Saint Remy de Provence.

Stay Spend your nights in La Bella la Vie, the white luxurious provincial home overlooking the Place aux Herbes. Parking is free in the large parking lot that is just on the outskirts of the town, all in walking distance.

Read more about the morning markets here.

We craved for oranges and all things lavender and linen, so we had to shop them all!

perfect lunch spot and fountain view of the entire square

Above: rustic paté and rosé before dinner at Les Terroirs

Don’t be fooled by the entrance of La Parenthése the restaurant, the cozy and small roof terrace is a magical hideaway for a fantastic dinner and you’ll quickly understand why they have a star!

Amazing little sweet shops

The Slowlife Guide to Lourmarin

‘Provence’s peaceful gem, Lourmarin’

We pass through dozens of vineyards and countless blue shutter provincial houses as we drive through the winding country roads of the Lubéron region, that is a picture-esq corner in the southern foothills of the Alps. Most of the beautiful towns are in close proximity, making it easy to visit breathtaking places ( Menerbes, Senanque Abbey, Saint-Remy de Provence) in a short amount of time. Continuing our holiday from southern Italy to the south of France, our first two-day stop was in the idyllic town of Lourmarin, that turned out to be one of my favourites of our holiday.

Tucked away between hills of orchards and limestone cliffs, Lourmarin is the southernmost village of the Lubéron. We arrived to the little town from Nice feeling parched and hungry eager to go exploring the nooks of the town. After checking into our  charming little B&B kept by a lovely english women Rose Robson, her partner and dog, we headed to town hoping to find a bistro open. Typically, all the restaurants were in siesta at this hour so our only choice was to buy treats from a gourmet deli and sit on a park bench where we watched locals compete over a game of pétanque. Our accidental romantic picnic was lovely and charming; we bought a little bottle of rosé, a great slice of rustic paté and some quiche that we nibbled on as we watched the French through their boules. We even spoke to a man born and raised in the region, so friendly, who explained the rules of the game to us.

Strolling around the cadales (cobbled) pathways, you are tucked between pale limestone houses dating back to the Renaissance era that elevate to a 11th century Saint André church. The streets spill with boutiques, ateliers and restaurants, where the main square gathers everyone for a chilled afternoon rosé. Its beautiful, relaxing and everything you want it to be. This little town is what I envision Provence to be all about; people are dressed well wearing loafers and straw hats, many carry baguette in their paper bags (which almost sounds too cliché, but we spotted many people with them), buildings drapped with vines and fig trees blooming with the most ripe fruit waiting to be eaten. According to our B&B host, Lourmarin has always acted as a hideaway home to a number of artisans and writers due to its peaceful inspirational nature. Lourmarin is a lived-in destination and it attracts enough tourists, many that are local making the place the ‘right mount of full’, if you know what I mean. A charming contrast, in comparison to the overcrowded “most visited towns of Lubéron“, such as Gordes or Roussillon that get much more visitors and therefore have less of that authentic charm, we all seek for.

Exploring the most photogenic corners…

Dressed in a blue and white cotton dress with a comfortable slingback nude flat, we glided through the inviting streets, peeked into resident gardens, stopped for traditional tartar on the square and tasted the most perfect figs for dessert, that didn’t have a change to touch the ground. The most gorgeous pale rosé lingered in our mouths and we joined in on the relaxing lifestyle, provincials always talk about. Lourmarin is filled with cute restaurants, simple pure ingredients that speak for themselves. For a great itinerary, visit a new town during the morning, preferably one that has a morning market, such as cucuron, have lunch in the town of Ansouis at ‘le closerie’, make sure to book a table outside as it is very full. Explore Lourmarin for the remaining evening. Stop for a glass or two of rosé & tartar at Cafe Gaby and later in the evening indulge in Le recreations lamb shank and a full-bodied red wine on their cozy terrace.

restaurant Tips

  • Le recreation
  • Le Numero 9
  • Le Moulin
  • Cafe Gaby
  • Pizzeria Nonni

Make sure to find out what markets are going on what day, our B&B host Rose Robson was very helpful and suggested wonderful tips on exploring the region.

Location Lourmarin is ideally located in the heart of Provence, the coastal drive from Nice airport is about 2 hours and 30 minutes by car. Make sure to carry change with you, for the toll highways.

stay  L’Ancienne Maison des Gardes, Impasse des Gardes, 84160, Lourmarin, France. Contact: email roserobson@gmail.com. Tel: +33 (0) 4 90 07 53 16.

Nestled right on the edge of the main square, you are in perfect distance to everything of Lourmarin. We stayed in the room with a balcony and were greeted in the mornings with the smell of coffee and flakey croissants on our window sill. The country bedroom is above the ancient stone stairway looking into the blooming courtyard. This little room has an old-fashion Provencal charm and a private balcony where breakfast is served.

Wander The village has a buzzing market every Friday morning, which spreads across the centre of the village attracting visitors from neighbouring towns. The small farmers market happens on Tuesday evenings. The Chateau is open all year around that consists of a number of art exhibits and concerts.

Love Explore the town by walking around the narrow lanes, visiting all the tiny shops and stopping for a glass of vino on the main square.

 

 

 

Pinkish Porvoo

‘The last summer days in cozy Porvoo’

All you want to do here is walk around, take cute pictures and sit in one of the many cafes… Porvoo the little town with perfectly decorated windows, idyllic wooden houses that are a soft pastel hue and cozy streets that fill with tiny shops, cafés and restaurants. Dressed in a metallic pink dress, I seamlessly matched the wooden cottages and my hubby and I strolled from restaurant to cafe´s tasting dishes from various places as there was a food event (SMAKU) taking place. Basically restaurants provide a small dish for about 5 euros and you hop to different places tasting all samples. We ate some carpaccio, fish, snails, veggie dishes and a few deserts! Porvoo is equally as idyllic in the winter time and all you want to do is snuggle inside the cute coffee shops sipping on warm drinks. Porvoo is highly photogenic with a lot of Scandinavian charm.

Favourite restaurants 

  • SicaPelle
  • Meat district
  • Bistro Sinne
  • Johans

Favourite cafes

  • cafe Glassico
  • cafe Postres
  • cafe Fanny
  • Petris Chocolate Room
  • Cafe Cabriale

Bacari in Venice, the local way.

 

‘Gone for an espresso, some bacari & Venetian delights.. local style’

Venice is surrounded with cute little espresso or bacari (this basically refers to the antipasti or tapas way of eating, but with Venetian customs) bars that make the winding streets interesting to roam. You may pass little vegetable stands, chocolate shops, delis and you always want to seek for places, where locals are. We came across a few cute places that I thought should be worth a share, along with the most beautiful views that came along the way. You often find locas eating cicchetti and ordering, “n’ombra de vin” or “uno spritz” standing up at the bar counter or around a wine barrel having a great time.

Walking around here is simple beautiful, I’m so drawn to all the muted blue shades that keep appearing in window shutters and you become so impressed by the attention to detail. I can easily look past the clichés of Venice and observe a little deeper to find a city filled with art and history. I love how dense Venice really is, you keep finding little hidden shops and cafés by accident, which you end up loving.

Have bacari at bistrot (Chat qui rit) and indulge in a cheese and parma ham platter and crab meat with a divine salty reduction. The cheese selection here won some type of award a few years ago and it was a great way to end the meal. Stop for an espresso (also a great cappuccino here) and pastries at a shabby cafe where all the locals lingered at caffé Brasilia Sestiere San Marco 3658a. Locals also love caffeteria Doria, it was buzzing in the mornings with people standing by the bar taking shots of 1euro espresso. There is a great authentic vibe here and equally, in the evenings it crowds with people who come together for wine and apperol. This place has a great atmosphere despite it being close to Saint Mark’s Basilica, that is filled with tourists. While you’re in the neighbourhood, stop at Cibo (Calle dei Fabbri Sestiere Sano Marco 4666) a cute delicatessen that is a jewel in the heart of the city that serves quality meets, cheeses, truffles, pasta and wine that you should for sure indulge in. Still in San Marco neighbourhood, stop for cicchetti (little sandwiches that are tradition in Venice) on Calle Della Malvasia Castello called Osteria al Portego or the hidden I Rusteghi Osteria Enoteca (Corte del Tentor, 5513) that is perhaps a little more “refined” than the traditional bar that has a lovely tiny courtyard with a wonderful wine list.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Secret Garden of Venice

 

‘perfectly manicured gardens just a boat ride from the square, welcome to Belmond Hotel Cipriani’

Are we still in Venice? Yes we are, just a five minute boat ride across the lagoon from San Marco square to the island of Giudecca. This luxury retreat make a wonderful getaway from the hassle of Venice, if you are looking for a leisurly afternoon to unwind and slow down.  Hotel Cipriani shares its lush grounds and perfectly manicured gardens that make an amazing post lunch stroll under the rose-covered arches. Did you know that the hotel was opened by Giuseppe Cipriani (1958), the man who founded Harry’s Bar and invented the Bellini cocktail. We tested a Bellini in Harry’s bar and I will tell you, it was exceedingly refreshing and a gorgeous pale pink. My friend and I enjoyed lunch in the restaurant, had a garden salad from their own produce and topped it off with some cod fish. Later we enjoyed some afternoon tea by the poolside with some sweets. Dressed in blue hues and a loose droopy knot, Cipriani is as elegant as I thought it would be making it a dreamy spot for a momentary hide away.

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘The Prettiest of Venice’

‘A walk through the prettiest streets of Venice’

Leaving our hotel Palazzetto Pisani, walk through the long narrow Campo Santo Stefano that lines with little cafes, shops and restaurants, away from the Grand Canal & Glasstress le Biennale, for example to the streets around Piscina San Samuele. This area is filled with the mot prettiest pinkish houses with turquoise windows and roses spill from every corner. Study the old detailed doors, smell the hanging laundry and let your eyes be filled with Venetian beauty. Stop for an espresso or a antipasta plate in one of the places and roam free around every corner. You will quickly notice, that the end ends are exceptionally beautiful. Cross over to San Polo district via the bridge by institute Europeo di Design or by the Rialto bridge and crisscross to the beautiful Campo San Giacomo dell’Orio. Eat lunch at La Patatina on Santa Croce 1587 and make sure to order the catch of the day, the grilled whole seabass. The square is really cozy and calm that has the prettiest church in the middle, filled with lots of locals and elderly sitting under shaded trees. After lunch take a turn towards the Rialto Mercato (market) and walk around the winding streets of the area. San Palo has a reputation of a food district so make sure to stop for wine and chichetti and shop for spices in Antica Drogheria Mascari. I wish I could bottle up the smell of the roses that hung off the brick walls and freeze time on the perfectly reflective canals. I wish I could share the smell of the espresso shops that hid in little corners and the aftertaste of dry tangy parmigiano in between little chichetti breads. I wish you could walk in my shoes through these little streets and capture the most darling facades Venice has to offer.

All these dead-ends are really beautiful and I love the colour combinations of all these buildings.

We stopped for some smoothie popsicles by the market, but since we came so late, all the food stands were cleared away already! You must experience the hassle of it all in the morning as I did with my local guide and see all the fresh vegetables, fish and seafood, spices and all that!

I mean, just look at these pretty little bridges and walls of sun-baked roses. I love how the tiles are faded from the sun and how calming the reflective canals can be.

above: Campo San Giacomo dell’Orio

Look at the size of these garden roses and how the flowers spill from the balconies!