Prague

Prague, Czech Republic

May 2014

Four days away

Me and J

By British Airways

Stayed at Art Deco Imperial Hotel (art deco is an understatement)

What I read:

A Girl is Half Formed Thing by Eimear McBride (not an easy read, but kind of worth it)

The gist of it:

It’s not all cheap beer and stag parties in Prague. But there is a lot of that too. J and I booked this trip in January, again through the BA sale, for the May bank holiday weekend. Although it rained a little the first two days, the end of the weekend was glorious.

We stayed in the Old Town and spent our first afternoon wondering. Prague is beautiful. The cobblestones streets are lined with buildings that look like candy boxes with everything from designer shops, to gothic monuments, to many, many beer bars.  We had a great time checking out some of Prague’s contemporary art galleries on our first afternoon and I had to restrain myself from buying something I couldn’t afford at praguekabinet. We also stumbled upon an installation of books in a library just off the Old Town Square, which was very cool (pictures below).

On our first  day we had a great Italian lunch at Aldente (highly recommend).  On the whole, we had a lot of great food in Prague, although none of it was traditional Czech fair. The bread dumplings just never did it for me and we tried! We really tried.  J and I also had a good meal at School and I loved Bake Shop. On Saturday night we went big with the six course tasting menu at La Degustation, which was unsurprisingly excellent.

There are many sights to see in Prague. We wondered around the castle, but only made it inside St Vitus Cathedral. The Sternberg palace has a wonderful little collection of old Masters and for some reason it was not nearly as busy as the tourist attractions around it. The Jewish Museum was very busy, but we managed to squeeze in with the crowds.

On Sunday, we went for a long walk up around the castle and past the Petrin Lookout tower than back down to the river and home. This was probably my favorite day. There are two big parks on the Northwest side of the vltava, which are beautiful. It was almost warm enough to just lay in the grass, but not quite. Although a little off the beaten track, Pivovarksy Klub, where we went Sunday evening, has an excellent beer selection. Of the tankovna pubs we went to, my favorite was U Pinkasu, around the corner from Wenceslas square, but if you go, definitely sit in the smoking section. Despite the smell, it has a much better atmosphere.

On our last morning, we wondered over to Zizkov’s Tower to see David Cerny’s space age babies. When it was almost time to go, I of course dragged J back to Hard Decore to buy some earrings.  The store is a mix of jewelry and clothes, all Czech designed and made – definitely worth checking out.

Tourists traps:

After walking by the ham roasting over coals in Old Town Square once, J and I were convinced that this was street food worth savoring. Unfortunately, the food is charged by weight and so the headline prices are completely misleading. We paid more to stand up eating that ham than for any other lunch we ate. The ham ended up just tasting expensive.

Top recommendations:

American Black Ale (ABA) at the Pivovarsky Klub. This is probably one of those really annoying recommendations that is impossible to find. BUT, if you go to the to Pivovarksy Klub and they have ABA on draft, order it!

Next time:

Try to get tickets to the ballet or the opera.

Photos:

Kind of a mix of pictures, but I admit there are a lot from the book installation and Zizkov’s tower. I took all of them except for the picture in Le Degustation and the picture of me below the tower.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Bubbles in the Old Town Square

P5020742

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Book tower installations in a library just off the Old Town Square

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The most expensive street food of all time in the Old Town Square

P5030763

We never made it to the museum, but I love this poster.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

St Vitus Cathedral

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Me and Hans Holbein’s Hohenburg Altar at the Sternberg Palace

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Streets of Prague

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The view from J’s seat in La Degustation

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A view of the Vltava and some of Prague’s bridges

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Zizkov Tower and around

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Prague train station

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

That hair.

 

Advertisements

Easter Monday by the Sea

West Sussex, England

April 2014

One afternoon away

Me, E and J

By Train

What I read:

Love in Cold Climate by Nancy Mitford

The gist of it:

On Easter Monday we got a train from London to the coast. We got off at Goring-by-Sea and walked down the stony beach (aprox. 6 miles) to East Beach Cafe in Littlehampton. The day was overcast, but still warm for April and there were  a few kids and a lot of dogs brave enough to get their feet wet.

The walk is not long, but walking on sand and stones is tiring, so we were very hungry for lunch. The food was delicious, fishy, fair and I would definitely go back for the calamari alone. We got back on the train at Littlehampton in the afternoon and were home before dinner time.

Photos:

I was pretty lazy about taking pictures, but I got a few I am pleased with from our walk.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Istanbul

Istanbul
March 2014
Four days away
Me and J
By British Airways
Stayed at Pera Palace Hotel

What I read:
The Istanbul Lonely Planet Guide Book (this is not a lie or a shameless plug for Lonely Planet, but Istanbul and its history are fascinating. This, along with the fact that my knowledge was so lacking, meant I actually did read the guide book cover to cover)
The Economist magazine

The gist of it:
J and I booked this weekend in January via the BA sale and got a great deal on flights and accommodation for this weekend. We knew the weather in March would not be hot, but we did not anticipate quite how much rain we would see in Istanbul. It rained for the entire the trip. But, that did not (really) get in the way and I loved Turkey so much, I am trying to convince J we should got back this summer.

Our hotel was beautiful and historic, which we had no idea about until we arrived and were treated to a ride in Istanbul’s first elevator. The Pera Palace hotel was built to house travelers visiting Istanbul on the Orient Express. It is beautiful and the service was excellent and the sauna was much needed to dry off after our days in the rain.

We arrived in Istanbul on Saturday around mid-day and spent the afternoon exploring Beyoglu. Over the course of the weekend we saw many of the city’s landmarks including Hagia Sofia, Topkapi Palace, Basilica Cistern, the Spice Bazaar and the Grand Bazaar. We also saw dervishes whirl in a traditional ceremony at the Galata Mevlevii Museum (see photos below). Everything we saw was incredible, in particular Hagia Sofia, which is definitely not to be missed despite the flocks of tourists. 
 
Eating was also a central feature to our trip and did not disappoint. Not one of our meals was less than great and I was nowhere near being sick of meze and grilled meats by the time we left. My top food recommendations are Sehzade Cag Kebabi  and Meze by Lemon Tree, but we also had great meals at Sofyali 9 and the House Cafe (which we later found out is a chain). We also had some very tasty pides (kind of like Turkish pizzas) at Hocapasa Pidecisi, which is on the same street as Cag Kebabi. Despite Hocapasa Pidecisi humble exterior the food was excellent and we were told by our kind waiter, who also took the photo of me and J below, that it had been run by the same family for three generations.
 
There was loads to buy in the bazaars, but J and I were restrained. For any girls who are fans of Anthropology’s jewelry, the Grand Bazaar has a wealth of jems to pine after at very reasonable prices. I bought one pair of earrings and we also picked up a few hand-painted bowls and loads of spices and teas. We may have gotten a little carried away at the spice bazaar, seeing as are now not quite sure what we bought in our unmarked bags!
Top food recommendations:
Neither of these places can be called hidden gems, as they were recommended by friends, guide books and a variety of reputable publications, but that does not mean they are not worth visiting.

Sehzade Cag Kebabi (delicious kebabs close to the Spice Bazaar)
Meze by Lemon Tree (up-market Meze in Beyoglu)

Next time:

Too much to list here.

Pictures:

The weather and the byzantine architecture worked against my cause on the photo front, but here are a few of the best ones from the places we visited.

The patisserie in the Pera Palace Hotel. This photo does not do all of the pink justice.
The view from the Galata Tower
Hagia Sofia
That awkward moment when the person serving your table catches you taking a picture of your tea and coffee (above) and then insists on taking a photo of you drinking said tea and coffee.
The Spice Market
Whirling Dervishes at Galata Mevlevii Museum
Topkapi Palace
Sehzade Cag Kebap (so delicious)
The Grand Bazaar

28 in Paris

Paris

February 2014

Three days away

Me and J

By Eurostar

Stayed at La Villa Saint Germain

What I read:

Dear Life by Alice Munro, PORTER magazine (highly recommend both)

The gist of it:

I didn’t know that I was going to Paris until the day before we left. The trip was a surprise for my 28th birthday from my boyfriend (!!!). I have been to Paris a few times before, so did not feel any pressure to see all of the sights.

Paris is a city that proceeds itself in my opinion. But Paris does not disappoint. We spent our three days wondering and sitting in cafes. We also went to the Musée Rodin and the Centre Pompidou, both of which I had never visited. I have spent an afternoon sitting outside the Centre Pompidou in the sunshine, which I also highly recommend, but the gallery itself was wonderful. Living in London, I am spoiled by having the Tate Modern so close, but the Centre Pompidou has a very different energy. We also had a wonderful lazy lunch of big French salads at La Fonde just around the corner.

My favorite meal of our trip was at Bar du Central, not least because it was my birthday lunch. I should mention I am also easily pleased with a standard French menu including big salads and a few steak options. For dinner I would also recommend Peres et Filles and Los Cocettes, which has a more adventurous menu.  Los Cocottes does not take reservation, however, so get there with plenty of time.

Although I do love shopping in Paris, I saved J the stress of my taking hours trying on a million dresses only to decide I want the first one. I did, however, buy some lovely napkins from Simrane, a store I would highly recommend, and finally tracked down Dior Glow lip stick/gloss (?) that I now love.

Next Time:

I want to try Le Pantruche restaurant.

Photos:

Just a few of my favorites from a mix of the places we wondered. I took most of them, except for the last few of me in the Palais Royal, which J took on my birthday.

Image

 

Jardin du luxembourg

Image

Image

Musée Rodin

Image

Pont Alexandre III

Image

Notre Dame (obligatory)

Image

Marché Bastille

Image ImageImage

Palais Royal

First Post

The truth is, I used to make photo albums. And they bordered on scrap books. From middle school, all the way through college, when I was well beyond the years of cutting and pasting, I liked to pull together my pictures and memories into a hardcover binding. I think this hobby – my only affinity for an activity that could be called a craft – was mostly about me enjoying remembering. But also because there is a different attention given to anything that is created to be shared.

Although my scrap-booking days are behind me, before I reach a life stage when the only creative outlet I have time for is choosing instagram filters, I am starting this blog. So I can remember what I did in my 20s (gulp) and share those experiences. Don’t worry, it won’t be everything I am doing, but mostly what I am seeing for the fist time.