Photo: View from Italy looking back to France

Who loves Italy? Yes, that is just about everyone, I think!  The food, Ice Cream, Coffee, wine and the fabulous people together with perfect weather and beautiful sea views and countryside make it just about perfect.  Enjoy a day out in Liguria.

It is a wonderful day out to drive along the coast of Liguria from the french border town of Menton to San Remo.  I suggest you take your passport as border control is stricter these days.

First stop, if you like gardens is Hanbury Gardens

Photo:  Hanbury Gardens

Hanbury Gardens, Corso Monte Carlo 43, 18039 Ventimiglia, Italy http://giardinihanbury.com

Beautiful Botanical gardens established by Sir Thomas Hanbury, now owned by the Italian State and managed by the University of Genoa.  This is a magical place to walk through the fabulous gardens, I always find inspiration for my own Mediterranean garden.

VENTIMIGLIA

PHOTO: Ventimiglia old town

Continue along the coast road until you come to Ventimiglia.  This is not the prettiest town but the the Old town pictured above is worth a visit.  I like the little seaside restaurants, particularly those in the old town. Find time for a delicious cup of Italian coffee, visit the daily food market where you will find every Italian delicacy possible.

Daily food and fish Market in the Market Hall.  A lot of french people like to shop in Italy because it is so much cheaper than France.  You will see so many shops selling alcohol and Spirits.  Main market day is Friday.

Pinnable Photo:

BORDIGHERA

Continue along the coast road for a few kilometres and you will come to Bordighera, a seaside town with great seaside restaurants and lovely shops!  You will notice that everything is cheaper in Italy than over the border on the french Riviera!

I would recommend you wait until Italy to shop.  Great shoes, chic clothes and low prices!

PHOTO:  Lunch in Bordighera

A fish based lunch in Bordighera is a delicious treat!  However, don’t forget the shop opening hours in Italy.  All the shops close between 12.30 and 3.30 or 4.00pm.

If you don’t have a car, the Italian coast is easily accessible by train from France with trains twice an hour that sop all along the coast.

SAN REMO

PHOTO: SAN REMO

Final destination is San Remo, main market days are Tuesday and Saturday here but again, the Food Market Hall opens every day except Sunday and is well worth a visit.  My favourite delicatessen is in the square before the market.

PHOTO: This is where I buy my Parmesan Cheese

Again, you are spoiled for choice with little family owned restaurants by the sea.  The fish could not be fresher.  One of my favourite treats is lobster and spaghetti and a bottle of Italian Rose, perfect!

There are so many really good shops here.  Choose from the well known names such as Max Mara or explore tiny boutiques with original designs.

PHOTO:  Old Town San Remo

Explore the tiny streets of the old town and discover so many little shops selling absolutely everything!

PHOTO: Shopping in San Remo

PHOTO: SAN REMO PORT

The seafront is full of little cafes and restaurants.

 

 

 

 

 

Superluxe jewellery by Charriol.  I love jewellery (show me a woman who does not and I will eat my hat!) and I love Monaco and meeting beautiful and interesting people.  So …. an afternoon with Mme Marie Olga Charriol, who is Head of PR for Charriol as well as wife of M. Charriol and mother to Laetitia, was an absolute delight!

We spent a lovely afternoon sipping rose wine at  the Meridien Beach Plaza Hotel in Monte Carlo, chatting about the jewellery and trying on some fabulous pieces.  She told me all about the Charriol collection, made in Switzerland by talented craftsmen, using superb quality gems and precious metals including gold and silver. Happiness is beautiful jewellery, is it not?

Photo: Marie Olga Charriol of Charriol and me

In the photo above we are both wearing Charriol designs, I would be thrilled to receive any one of these gorgeous pieces.  How about you? Mme Charriol is a chic and elegant ambassador for the collection, I wish I could look so cool and chic!

Charriol was created in 1983 by Phillipe Charriol and is known worldwide as a superluxe brand of jewellery, watches and accessories.  I particularly love the cable designs, perfect for everyday.  How much do you love my new bracelet below?

Photo: Charriol Cable Bracelet

Photo: Lots of colours! Charriol Cable Bracelet

I am now completely obsessed with the cable bracelet! However, I cannot possibly divulge the price ….. I was astonished by how affordable it is, particularly compared to other luxury brands.  I don’t want everyone to  know.  Find out on http://www.charriol.com

Photo: Charriol Cable bracelet and bag

This Celtic Bracelet design, above, is one of my favourites.  Inspired by a visit to the British Museum in London in 1983, Philippe Charriol created the famous cable design.  And the rest is history, the  famous and iconic design continues today.  The Charriol Cable designs all started with this visit to a Celtic exhibition in London!

Photo: Charriol Celtic Design Bracelet

Charriol watches are all Swiss made and have the same understated chic as does the whole Charriol collection. I especially love the Saint Tropez collection, perfect as I am in Saint Tropez right now.

SaveSavePhoto: Stunning Saint Tropez Collection by Charriol

The quality is superb.  I posted a picture of my new Charriol Cable bracelet on Instagram and one of my followers told me she is still wearing a Charriol bracelet purchased 20 years ago and still wears it today.  That is a quality piece of a jewellery with timeless elegance.

Laetitia Collection:

Photo: Laetitia Charriol wearing the collection

Laetitia Charriol wears the Laetitia collection above.  How cool is that? Jewellery collection named after you!  This collection offers a younger, rock inspired look and very affordable pieces and beautiful Letitia looks amazing wearing these pieces.

I suggest you head over to Charriol online and look at the wonderful pieces of superluxe jewellery and watches by Charriol. Can you resist temptation?  My birthday is coming up soon, if my husband is reading this blog……

http://www.charriol.com

 

 

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Photo: Plage de Buse, Roquebrune Cap Martin

Summer essentials for a luxury travel Diva. Summer is all about having fun, chilling out and not worrying too much about anything.  Do you agree? So, when Amara Living invited me to choose some gifts from their online website my first choice was an inflatable swan!

Photo: Inflatable Swan from Amara Living

We are enjoying it so much here in the South of France it was a perfect choice for the beach and at home in the Swimming Pool.  My little Pomeranians love floating about on it too.

The swan does not weigh very much so I can pack it up in my suitcase and take it travelling!

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A summer hike and a picnic anyone? Of course, just great to enjoy the outdoor woods in sunny weather.  My hammock is light and easy to carry on a picnic, a nice little nap after all that walking is an excellent idea!

Photo: Amazonas Hammock from Amara

I’m going to use my hammock at home, out hiking and on the beach for a little afternoon siesta.  Super comfy and made from natural cotton fabric, it is light and easy to carry.

The hammock is made by Amazons, a company that donates 20,000 euros to a Brazilian street children product called “Der Kleine Nazarene e.V.”  If you buy a hammock like this you will be contributing towards their donation.

This hammock from http://www.amara.com 

Lastly but by no means least I chose a super chic cotton beach bag by Elizabeth Scarlett, London pictured below.  This gets lots of compliments a perfect beach essential.  You can find the link to buy on the right hand side of this page.  Its now on sale and half price.

Photo: Beach Bag from Amara

My Summer beach essentials include: Cashmere Rebel Scarf, Boostoxygen, Chanel, Vitage Factor 30 face protection, Caudalie Grape water.

Photo: Summer Essentials in my Amara Beach Bag

However, the most important summer essential is …. remember you are beautiful just the way you are!  Get out and enjoy the summer, do not worry about losing weight, cellulite, looking less than svelt.  YOU ARE PERFECT.

 

 

Photo: Summertime in the South of France

Shop online at http://www.amara.com

 

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Yape Yape at Pampellone Beach

Well, Saint Tropez is a fabulous place to visit!  BUT, nightmarishly busy in summer.  Personally, I would not go there in July and August.  Here are 5 of my favourite things to do and I hope you enjoy them.

Top Tip 1:  Visit The Market

Saint Tropez Market

Saint Tropez 5 top tips. Who doesn’t love a weekly market right?  It is always fun to browse around this eclectic mix.  Some stall holders have been at the market for many a long year and are great characters.

I know, you will find a lot of the usual tourist tat but there are some gems here.  I always like to buy the local fresh fruit and vegetable in season.  The Cherry season is always a special treat, plus local wines, olives and Provencal goodies.

St Tropez Market

How about a hat to keep the sun off? My top tip is to get there early! Arrive and have a coffee and breakfast and then browse the market.

Saint Tropez Market

Top Tip 2:  Then I like to have breakfast at Senequier on the port and then head to the market.  Yes, I know!  It is outrageously expensive ….. but it is an occasional treat.

Senequier on the Port, Saint Tropez

It is always buzzing and has some good things to eat and drink.  My favourite is a Piscine, 15 euros but HUGE.

A Piscine at Senequier, Saint Tropez Port

Top Tip 3: Lunch at La Bouillabaisse Beach, Saint Tropez

http://www.labouillabaisse-plage.com

You will see this on the left as you drive into Saint Tropez, by the roundabout.  A lovely spot for lunch on the most perfect beach with great views and good food.  A laid back and chilled out atmosphere just makes it a memorable lunch.

Le Bouillabaisse Beach and Restaurant

There is a great beach here too.

Tip No. 4: Yape Yape Restaurant, Pampellone Beaches, Route des Tamaris, Ramatuelle

I love this cute little beach restaurant, the people who run it a very friendly too!  It is slap bang on the naturist beach, which is my favourite beach needless to say.  Gorgeous beach, laid back vibe and decent food.  What is not to like?  Give it a try and tell me if you don’t prefer it to spending absurd amounts of money with a load of wannabes on Nikki Beach.

Pampellone Beach, by Yape Yape Restaurant

Enjoying the beach life.

Me on the beach at Ramatuelle

Yape Yape Restaurant

Tip No.5:  Wine Tasting

I love a glass, or two or …. well, maybe three! Chilled Provencal Rose wine, particularly served as a Piscine is heavenly.  Here, you can go on a little wine tasting tour and sample and buy a case or two.  My favourite tour is to continue on the road to the little village or Ramatuelle, after you leave the Pampellone beaches.  Basically turn left instead of turning right back to Saint Tropez.

Inland from Saint Tropez

You could stop off for a little look around the village and then continue along the road and stop off at the wineries en route.  There are several and all are well sign posted, including the famous Minuty vineyard.

 

The famous Port of Saint Tropez

Tourist Information: http://www.sainttropeztourisme.com

 

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Photo: Pegasus painting of Naomi Campbell

I absolutely love these paintings by Pegasus.   He is so talented!  I loved my What’s App chat with him and we will definitely have cocktails together when we are both in London at the same time!  He told me he wants to convey a message of love and acceptance in his work.

Pegasus is a North London Street artist well known for painting popular culture’s most recognisable icons to produce great pieces of stencilled art. His work is innovative and, and sometimes controversial. He uses bright, bold colours in his pop-art style stencils, which often include shades of blue, pink and red.

Originally from California, he is heavily influenced by Andy Warhol, Daren West the Neon Artist and of course Banksy.

Pegasus is on Camden Council’s “Do not remove” list, which means his work is protected and you don’t need to walk far in London to discover artwork produced by this talented street artist. St Giles Hotel have chosen to form a creative partnership with Pegasus.

Pegasus spent three months working on the bespoke pieces and two months creating outlandish outfits for the front of house staff. The artist chose to immortalise The Queen, Amy Winehouse, Naomi Campbell and David Bowie in artwork which will be available for tourists and Londoners to see in the  Tottenham Court Road property.

Photo: Pegasus’ painting of The Queen

Each work features a portrait of a London legend holding a dripping paintbrush with a neon, graffiti-style heart behind them, giving the illusion that the subject has painted the portrait.. The heart theme was developed in line with the St Giles Hotels charity, Hotels with Heart*. St Giles has also commissioned Pegasus to create a unique pin badge, scarf and tie as part of the uniforms, which will be available to purchase with 100% of proceeds going to the charity.

The Pegasus takeover of St Giles London is part of a brand-wide upgrade across all St Giles Hotels in the UK. The group has 11 properties worldwide including a hotel at Heathrow Airport and will soon be breaking ground on a second Central London property on a 1.8-acre site in Blackfrairs. The Tottenham Court Road property is the first to begin redevelopment with renovations of the lobby and guest lounge areas that was completed with the new works of art last month.

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Travel to Santorini

Travel to Santorini, where to go and what to do – Reminiscing about my short trip to Santorini.  A few days sunshine, blue skies and crystal clear water would be great, right now!

To be honest four days was enough time to spend on such a small island.  Ideal for a short break or island hopping, it is easy to understand why my yacht owning friends enjoy a summer trip island hopping.  My advice is to stay on a few different islands rather than just one.

I stayed in the quiet, Northern part of the island, Akrotiri was the nearest town, on the coast facing Thera and Oia, which are the white blobs on my photo below.

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The North is by far the nicest part of the island, away from the tourist hub of Thera.  The sunsets in this part of the island are spectacular and every evening there would be quad bikes making there way to watch the sunset.  I stayed in a boutique hotel, in a villa with private pool.  I’m not going to recommend this Hotel because it was very, very expensive and not really worth the money.  Admittedly, this was in June and tourist season, but even so ….  Santorini in general is very overpriced.

One of the highlights was visiting Akrotiri and the archaelogical site, the most important Minoan site outside Crete.  Santorini is one of the Cycades Islands hit by volcanic eruption with dreadful consequences for the people of the island.

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Akrotiri has charming little coves, beaches and restaurants.  If I visit another time I wouldn’t bother going to Thera – except for the iconic photographic opportunities!  I hated the crowds of cruise trip visitors filling up the streets, go early or late in the season and it is probably very different.  However, if you enjoy a buzzing nightlife, this is the place for you!

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Oia –  would be lovely without the cruise trippers.  I read recently that plans are in place to limit the numbers, which is an excellent idea. It is a picture perfect, idyllic white village clinging to the hillside.  Definitely visit but only stay if you enjoy crowds and hustle and bustle.

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Southern Santorini – I shot this in the far South, just stunning isn’t it?  The blue skies and sea are unbeatable.

Wine tasting – You must visit some of the vineyards and sample some of the local and surprisingly good wines.  Wine growing started in Roman times in Santorini and the vines are still grown in the same style, allowed to trail on the ground with the leaves covering the precious grapes.

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I discovered santo winery, Pirgos whilst driving back to Akrotiri.  What a delightful place, probably the best view of any winery I have every visited – and I have visited many wineries! http://www.santowines.gr A little wine tasting with cheese, looking at the stunning view above – not a bad way to pass the afternoon!  This reminds me, I bought a pack of local FAVA beans here – still wondering what I am supposed to do with them!

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Yes, that is 6 glasses of wine you can see on the tasting tray!

The Santorini sunsets are magical and you will see scores of quad bikes heading up to Akrotiri to catch the best sunset.  Everyone gets about on Quadbikes here and they are great fun!

Definitely take a boat trip to other islands or just simply cruise around the island visiting little coves.

My Top Tip

Santorini Airport is horrendous in high season, I mean really disorganised and crowded.  Readers have told me of their horror at the airport conditions.  I must say, it is not good for a European airport! I recommend heading up to the roof after check in, this is the best spot to avoid the Sardine in a tin conditions!  You can admire the view and might actually grab a seat.  Be aware, there isn’t a Club Class lounge – British Airways really need to do something about this, and soon! However, it is very convenient having a British Airways flight out of London City Airport.

http://www.britishairways.com

Useful Addresses:

Santorini boat tours and boat rental  http://www.santorinitours.com

Quad bikes: http://www.motorinn.gr

Tourist info: http://www.visit-santorini.com

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A day in Saint Tropez – Saint Tropez Port

Visit Saint Tropez. Are you spending the summer in the South of France?  Take a day out in Saint Tropez or take a few days out to explore the area. Although the glamorous heyday of Saint Tropez is over, it is still a cool and fun place to spend a few days during your holiday.  I am writing about my ideal day out.

 

Arrive early and beat the crowds.  Park in the new Port car park and walk around to the Port, stay by the sea and you can’t go wrong.

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Saint Tropez Port

The port is always entertaining with enormous yachts somehow squashed like Sardines in a tin into the small port.  It is definitely a paradise for show off’s and to parade their enormous boat to the world! Artists with an array of varying talent display their artworks sit on the harbour front.  Take time out for a coffee and then visit the l’Annonciade Museum which is on the right hand side as you walk into the Port.  Definitely worth popping in with its collection of 20th century art much of it from the Saint Tropez area.  Matisse, Vlaminck, Bonnard are among the many artists represented at the museum.

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L’Annonciade Museum, Port Saint Tropez

Right next door is one of my favourite shops, Hermes.  Time for a little retail therapy.  You will love the gorgeous little boutiques with one off pieces and things you will not see anywhere else.  There aren’t any boring high Street stores.  One of my favourite boutiques is called Marie (very appropriate!) for one of summer dresses.

IMG_3342-2Hermes Shop, Saint Tropez Port

 

 

My favourite shop, Marie, is in Rue de la Citadelle and Sentiers near a little arcade almost next door which has a sweet little coffee shop too!

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Dior also in Rue de la Citadelle, Saint Tropez

There are all the top designer stores here but I like to shop in the little boutiques and find unusual pieces.  Of course, you must buy a pair of Les Tropeziennes sandals at their little shop.

IMG_3333-2Rue de la Citadelle, Saint Tropez

Don’t forget to buy a Tarte Tropezienne available in all the Boulangeries, yummy cream and strawberries in a light sponge – delicious.

Lunch at the Beach:

Time for lunch on the beach, drive to the beach for lunch.  The beaches are my favourite place to have lunch in Saint Tropez and you are really spoiled for choice from expensive places such as Club 55 http://www.club55.fr on Tahiti Beach in Saint Tropez, to little beach shacks.  Actually, this is one of the most interesting things about Saint Tropez.  It is the most egalitarian place!  Multimillion pounds yachts and just up the road caravan parks so there is something for everyone.

I like to drive out of Saint Tropez and turn first left towards Baie de Pampellone and the beaches of Ramatuelle.  Keep going until you start seeing beach road turns on the left and take your pick!  I have to find dog friendly beaches, for my two pooches and this rules out all the Saint Tropez beaches.  If you keep driving along the road, the beaches get quieter with less people.

IMG_3366Turn right for the naturist beaches if you like skinny dipping!

I much prefer the beaches here, rather than in St Tropez, mostly because they are beautiful, relaxed and laid back and also you take take your dogsPhoto: Looking back at the Pampellone Beaches at Ramatuelle

Photo: The perfect place to chill out

Lunch, swim and a little nap in the sun!

IMG_3370Photo: View from the beaches Ramatuelle

Photo: Pampellone Beaches

 

 

Wine Tasting:

Revived and rested you will be ready to try some of the famous Rose Provencal wine!  Again , spoiled for choice by the many little wineries you will spot as you drive along the roads.

IMG_3353Pretty Vineyard at Chateau des Marris

IMG_3351Chateau des Marris

If you keep going along this road you will come to the picture perfect village of Ramatuelle

IMG_3376 (1)Ramatuelle village

Worth stopping off for a little potter about and then continue along the road heading back to Saint Tropez in a circle and you can stop at some more vineyards including Chateau Minuty,

Time for an evening out in Saint Tropez.  I hope you enjoyed our day out!

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l’Opera Restaurant on the port Saint Tropez with a live show while you eat dinner http://www.opera-saint-tropez.com

Tips:

If you are visiting St Tropez just for the day, get here very early if you are driving! The road to St Tropez is grid locked all summer long starting from about 9.30 in the morning and this last most of the morning.  On the return journeyout of St Tropez the road is one long traffic jam from 5 pm approximately until 8.30pm.

It is much better to arrive by boat if you are coming from Nice just for a day, there are regular boats from Nice Port and it is a very nice view all the way and takes about 2 hours.  You can also leave your car in St Maxim or Frejus and take a boat to Saint Tropez.

However, if you are staying here, just arrive outside that morning rush (in the afternoon or very early in the morning).

Helpful information

http://www.sainttropeztourisme.com

Hire a bike to get around http://www.rolling-bikes.com

Hire a yacht http://www.sainttropez-yachtcharter.com

Market days: Tuesday and Saturday

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Embrace your ‘inner James Bond’ and take a speedboat from the airport.

 

What do you think of Venice? Very few people dislike it – despite the enormous cruise boats and hoards of day trippers clogging up the streets and canals. It is still a wondrous place that fills you with excitement from the moment you step into a water Taxi at the airport until the minute you leave.

I’m sure you have all visited loads of times, but anyway, here is my take on how to live like a Venetian.

Tip: Unless the hotel is offering a free speedboat, just hop aboard one dockside and it will only be 100 euros. Turn left out of the airport, make sure you have a porter it is quite a trek, and head to the most handsome Water Taxi owner that you can find.

 

Don’t even think about a Waterbus, unless you want to be squashed and uncomfortable with tourists (we are travellers NOT tourists!) and stop a hundred times en route.

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Safely delivered to the Hotel.

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My ‘Gaff’ for the week

IMG_1191Bauer Hotel http://www.bauervenezia.com

Chosen for its unbeatable location.  I don’t know about you, but I want to be in the heart of Venice and not on some island over yonder!  This is the perfect choice literally a stones throw from Piazza San Marco square but step through the hotel doors and you enter an oasis of calm and tranquility that seems far from the crowded square.

Step out of the door and you have Gondola’s waiting to transport you if you turn left and glorious shops followed by Piazza San Marco on the right.  Louis Vuitton is literally just outside the hotel, which is not great for my bank balance but a lovely treat.

If you want to splurge The Gritti Palace http://www.thegrittipalace.com is just one block over towards San Marco and Harry’s Bar is just around the corner.

Who could ask for more from the Hotel Bauer?  To be honest, I would like to be let loose with an interior designer – but the old world charm, excellent staff and wonderful restaurant are enough to bring me back for another visit.

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It is easy to escape into the ‘true’ Venice, just keep away from the typical tourist itinerary and one street over will be an oasis of calm, just as the photo above which was taken in crowded September.  One of my favourite routes is to leave the Bauer, turn left and cross the canal take a right and then left – you are now away from the crowds! Keep going and meander along marvelling at the hidden delights in the tiny little shops.

You are now in culture lovers heaven, there will be a church, Museum or gallery at every turn.  Once I arrive at Palazzo Cavalli Franchetti, there will probably be an exhibition that is too good to pass by, but then cross the bridge.  Galleria del Academia is right there to explore, afterward turn left and keep going and you are now in a completely different Venice. Quiet little canals with sleepy houses and delicious little restaurants to try out.  I love to stop off at Collezione Peggy Guggenheim, an amazing collector.

IMG_1184-2Collezione Peggy Guggenheim

Revived after a cup of tea at the Guggenheim Cafe continue on to Punta Della Dogana and view another wonderful contemporary art collection.  Choose somewhere for lunch and congratulate yourself on a fabulous morning!

Retrace your steps or hop on a Gondola back across to the Bauer for a little nap.  Dinner on the terrace of the Bauer is a highlight, the view unsurpassable and constantly entertaining with guests alighting onto water taxis resplendent in their evening wear and all the canal boats toodling along.

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Another must-do another night is to book tickets for the Opera, put on your glad rags and take a water taxi to the Opera. You will have another James Bond moment, for sure!
IMG_0464Helpful Tips

When to Visit: Try and avoid the busy tourist months of July and August if you can.

Information: http://www.venice-tourism.com  http://www.venice-carnival-italy.com

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Photo:  Cannes Film Festival 2017

Have you visited Cannes Film Festival? No, well, it is great fun and well worth a visit.  I find it is like entering a parallel universe for a few days!  It is super busy, the town packed with film crews, movie executives, directors, actors and everyone you can possibly think working in the film industry.  Throw, hundreds of film enthusiasts into the mix and it is jam packed.

If you don’t work in the film industry, you will feel a little bit like Alice in Wonderland when she falls down the rabbit hole!  The film industry is all consuming for those connected with the industry and the whole point of a film festival is to sell your film! Everywhere you go people are doing deals, discussing movies and it is all quite extraordinary.

Photo: Crowds waiting outside Martinez Hotel Cannes for movie stars

I thoroughly enjoyed my time and fun events ranging from a fabulous face treatment at L Raphael Luxury Spa at the Martinez hotel to watching movies, parties and even a private viewing in a gorgeous villa.  I always enjoy meeting young and enthusiastic professionals and so it was a delight to meet the Film Director J P Mandarino and star, Drew Lipson of the new movie The Kaos Brief.  

Photo: JP Mandarino, Drew Lipson and me

They kindly invited me to their gorgeous villa in Cannes and were the best fun.  We enjoyed a private viewing of the movie and a lovely chat afterwards.  The film is and exciting SciFi/horror movie and you will be drawn into the plot and be left wanting more when the movie ends! The young star, Drew Lipson is surely one to watch for the future and I look forward to seeing him in more movies soon.  Handsome and talented, always a great combination.

Photo: Director and Star of The Kaos Brief

This is Drew’s first lead role in a movie and his first time in Cannes.  He was delighted to be “living the dream!”, he told us that the small cast of 4 major characters lived together during filming.  The film took only 2 weeks to make and the cast were firm friends by the end of the movie.

The Kaos Brief is available for worldwide distribution.  JP Mandarin is looking for funding for his next two projects. http://www.thekaosbrief.com

Video: The Kaos Brief

Snippet from Drew Jepson interview

Tips for Cannes Film Festival:

A few tips for you, if you plan to attend next year.

  • The big stars do not stay in Cannes.  The ones who don’t want or need the publicity stay in Monaco.
  • Go early, security really hots up going into hotels etc after Saturday so go for the first few days.
  • Make sure people know you plan to attend and you will receive invitations to screenings, use the cannes hashtags on social media.

Prices shoot up in Cannes so it is a good idea to stay nearby rather than pay inflated price, unless you want to be immersed in the experience totally and pay for it!

Photo: Freddie and me enjoying drinks at The Carlton Hotel Cannes during the Festival

Contact: http:jpmandarino.com

 

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L Raphael Beauty Spa Martinez Hotel Cannes

How about a wonderful morning at L Raphael Beauty Spa in the fabulous Martinez Hotel in Cannes? Well, who could resist!  I experienced a very effective treatment called Oxy-Peel Anti-Age Treatment.  I am now Red Carpet ready for my busy week at Cannes Film Festival 2017 with the help of L Raphael revolutionary technology and advanced anti ageing skincare products.

L Raphael Beauty Spa Treatments

The treatment lasted over an hour and was so relaxing in a super luxe treatment room with dimmed lights to make me relax and is a multi step treatment using oxygen as well as L Raphael complex LEC-40 to rejuvenate my skin and reverse the visible signs of ageing.

LEFT: After my treatment and hair styling and RIGHT: My Treatment session

The results of my Anti-Age treatment were immediately visible and I’ms sure my skin looked refreshed, smooth and visibly younger!  Infact, I was so pleased that I am seriously considering going to Geneva to L Raphael Geneva to investigate the full 4D Soft Facelift Treatment!

4D Soft Facelift combines 4 different treatments to lift and rejuvenate the skin with an exclusive non-invasive treatment.

The Cannes Film Festival is an action packed couple of weeks, hectic and busy with lots of parties, films, events and crowds!  It was wonderful to enter the peaceful haven of L Raphael and experience the luxury Spa.  I was lucky enough to have a hairstyling with Patrick Nicolieri, who was such a professional and gave me very helpful advice about my hair.

Thank you L Raphael Beauty Spa for a wonderful day and I will be back!

The Grand Hyatt Martinez Hotel Cannes is a magnet for Film Festival crowds, with movie fans waiting for a glimpse of their favourite movie stars as they leave the hotel!  I was greeted by hundreds of people outside the hotel waiting to see their favourite move stars.

Photo: The crowds of Film Fans waiting outside Martinez Hotel, Cannes

Useful information:

Website: http://www.l-raphael.com Telephone: +33 (0)492987490 email: cannes@l-raphael.com

Grand Hyatt Martinez Hotel Cannes http://www.cannesmartinez.com

Travel is great fun and a wonderful lifestyle but it is important to stay healthy and learn how to re-calibrate your body and relax after a trip.  Long haul flights and long days travelling can take their toll.

I love to chill out by my pool in the South of France as a way of distressing.  Also, tea is very important to me, especially as I’m English and we consume lots of tea!  Every day starts with a cup of tea in bed and every afternoon we have afternoon tea!

The Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company

My latest tea discovery is from The Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company.  Their speciality teas are delicious and just the way to relax and chill out after a long journey.  The Madecasse chocolate was crummy too, sometimes 70% Coca chocolate can be bitter but this was creamy and just perfect!

Teatime at my house

Tea is a wonderful drink to rehydrate the body too!  So relax and sit down with a nice cup of tea right now.  You will immediately take a deep breathe and unwind.  Why not take a pack of tea along with you on your next trip too!

Caudalie for stressed and tired skin:

Drinking tea is an excellent diuretic and will help with bloating caused by long haul flights.  My skin needs extra special care before, during and after a long trip and so my favourite Caudalie products are always on standby.  I rehydrate my skin with Caudalie Grape Water I just used a spritz of it right now and my skin feels soft and beautiful.

Caudalie Grape Water

Caudalie Premier Cru Eye Cream

My eyes are also dehydrated and so my trusty Caudalie Premier Cru Eye Cream is perfect to combat stressed skin.  Click on my link on the right hand side of this page to buy.

Relaxing with Freddie and a cup of Tea

Thanks to http://www.destination2.co.uk for providing the relaxing teas to promote the importance of relaxing after travelling.

 

Visit Oman

“What is Oman like?” friends ask. Well, it is like stepping into a fairy tale of your imagination.  Stunningly beautiful scenery with magnificent Forts and Palaces to explore.  The people of Oman are very special, so friendly and welcoming – particularly if you are British.  This is something of a wonderful surprise, we aren’t always so well received! One of my favourite countries to visit in the Middle East. Definitely worthy of a return trip.

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Spot the Royal Palace in the background

Oman, like so many countries in the Middle East has a complex history.  In recent times, following the Dhofar rebellion, Sultan Said bin Taimur was deposed in a bloodless coup in 1970 by his son Sultan Qaboos.  He received help from the British SAS and RAF.  This may explain why British people are received so warmly!

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Step into a fairytale with desert, mountains, spectacular coastline all within one small country.  Take a driver and comfortable 4 x 4 and explore! Oman is perfectly safe and you won’t get lost with a driver. If you are feeling adventurous, take off into the mountains.

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Nizwa Fort

Discover Nizwa:

Drive up to the ancient fort of Nizwa, a couple of hours drive out of Muscat.  You will step into another world.  Th eFort was built mid 17C by Imam Sultan Bin Saif Al Y’alibi.  Don’t forget to go Nizwa Souk to buy all sorts of treats. http://www.omantourism.gov.om  The Souks are all treasure troves.  Visit Mutrah Souk in Muscat and don’t forget the Gold Souk.

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Pass by adorable villages, untouched for centuries, as you drive along.

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Pots galore, Dates, date honey, silver jewellery are all specialities here …

Where to Stay?

Ritz Carlton Al Bustan Palace:
I stayed at Al Bustan Palace, a Ritz Carlton Hotel in Muscat. This is everything you would expect of a Ritz Carlton, with an Omani twist.
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Ritz Carlton Al Bustan Hotel Oman

The impressive lobby where you will be welcomed with tea and dates.

The hotel has one of the best pools I have every seen.

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Beautiful Pool at the Ritz Carlton Al Bustan Hotel

This is a good choice of hotel to come back and relax after a day of adventures. Rather far from Muscat – too far to pop out for dinner, so you are confined to the 3 hotel restaurants. Mind you, Taxis are very cheap – you can always hop in a Taxi. http://ritzcarlton.com/AlBustan

Explore Muscat and don’t miss the Bazaars, the place to stock up on exquisite shawls, traditional silver, dates, spices ….. the choice is endless. Enjoy!

http://www.destinationoman.com

http://www.omantourism.com

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Photo: Agadir to Essaouira Road, most pics of me taken by @lemanieg

Diva Self Drive Morocco Road Trip.  Your very own Diva shares her tips for a successful, enjoyable and fun trip around Morocco.

First of all, hire a car!  I know this seems obvious but you will be surprised at how easy and carefree driving around is in Morocco!  I hired the car at the airport along with my friend Melanie and we drove straight to Marrakesh, parked up in a secure car park right outside the Medina for 6 euros a night.

Diva Road Trip, the start of our trip in Marrakesh

Marrakesh to Agadir:

Next day, hopped in the car and drove to Agadir for lunch.  The road was a new motorway with hardly any traffic and views of the countryside along the way.

Photo: Stop and chat to some donkeys along the way!

An easy 3 hour drive from Marrakesh to Agadir, a large part on a motorway and we arrived at the seafront of Agadir just in time for lunch.

Delicious Seafood Salad for lunch in Agadir

Another 20 minutes and we arrived at our hotel resort Paradis Plage.  This is set on a fabulous beach and we enjoyed a relaxing couple of days chilling doing Yoga, riding along the beach, Melanie enjoyed surfing.  This is the perfect location for surfing and surfers flock to this part of Morocco to enjoy the waves!

Delighted with my choice of a self-drive hire car!  The best way to see the country in my opinion, I love the freedom to choose where to go and what to do!

On the Road from Agadir to Essaouira

Agadir to Essaouira:

This road is just a joy to drive along.  You will enjoy spectacular sea views and literally step back in time in rural Morocco.  Again the roads are good with very few cars.  As a farmers wife, I particularly enjoyed the rural life and found the old fashioned farming methods and machinery fascinating.

Fun to stop at little market towns along the way

Then you can stop off and explore the markets along the way.  Nearly every little town had something interesting going on.  We felt totally relaxed and safe at all times and everyone was really nice along the way!  The people of Morocco are a delight.

Stocking up on some fruit for the journey

I have never seen Argan trees or Argan oil being produced before and this is the only area of morocco in which you will find these unusual trees.

Spot the Goats clambering in the trees

There are lots of little roadside stalls selling Argan oil as you approach Essouaira but you might be better to wait and buy the oil from a respected producer in Essouaira.

Spot the Camel under the heap of Straw?

Beware speed cameras though!  I confess to receiving a Speeding fine along this road.  Unfortunately the sun was in my eyes and I mistook the policeman for a potential roadside bandit!  I speeded up when I spotted him which was not the best idea to be honest.  All ended well and he saw the funny side in the end and we continued on our way.

Arrived safely in Essouaira!

A few days in fabulous Essaouira,  read my Essouaira blog to find out more, and we continued on to the Ourika Valley in the Atlas Mountains.

View of the High Atlas Mountains

Essouaira to Ourika Valley, Atlas Mountains:

This was quite a trek and involved driving through Marrakesh again!  It would have taken us around 4 hours if we hadn’t got lost trying to find the Kasbah.  I think we put the wrong co-ordinates into the Sat-Nav maybe, not really sure what went wrong! We arrived on market day too….

This was the only time we went off road along some tracks but it was well worth the clic and we loved our stay in the mountains!

Atlas Mountains near Kasbah Bab Ourika 

The views were amazing as was the hiking, Hamman and lunch in a Berber Village.  A thoroughly enjoyable stay in the mountains!

The views from Kasbah Bab Ourika in the Atlas Mountains

Some of our videos!  We managed to keep our sense of humour along the way!

And the Kasbah kindly rescued us in the end!

Hotsquash Top

Happy May!  What to Wear in May? It can be a tricky month with weather ranging from hot, cold, rainy and everything in between.  I am sharing my latest discoveries here.

I have a little insider tip for you …. one of my favourite British clothing brands, Hotsquash is having a flash sale.  Sign up for their newsletter on http://www.hotsquash.com and receive advance notice of bargains from £5 for a £130 dress and many more offers coming up this month!

Sherpa Adventure Gear:

My Sherpa Adventure Gear Scarf

Do you love my Sherpa Adventure Gear Scarf?  I just love it when a combination of great clothes and a really good Charity come together.  Sherpa Adventure Gear was set up in 2004 by Tasha Sherpa, it is a cool outdoor brand with great outdoor clothes.

The company also helps the Sherpa families in Nepal 85% of the product manufactured in Nepal employing 500 people in production centres and 1000 local women hand knitting caps and sweaters.  How great is that!

Sherpa Adventure Gear

Check out their website: http://www.sherpaadventuregear.co.uk

BOOST OXYGEN:

My new beauty secret! I’m going to share it with you……. Boost Oxygen Beauty. I am a fan of Boost Oxygen products, so was delighted to try Boost Oxygen Beauty which contains 98% Pure Oxygen.  Supplementing your body with Boost Oxygen helps to reduce stress, relax muscles, oxygenate the skin and boost skin renewal.

I noticed a positive change in my skin almost immediately.  My skin looks refreshed and definitely younger.  Give it a go!  Take a look at their website. http://www.boostoxygen.life

PAIN DE SUCRE:

PAIN DE SUCRE Cover-up

Pain de Sucre is my go-to swimwear brand on every trip!  I’m wearing their gorgeous cover-up above and I really love it, along with Jimmy Choo Sandals and a local Moroccan Straw bag.

http://www.paindesucre.com

Kasbah Bab Ourika

What a way to end my Diva Road Trip around Morocco! I loved a short stay at Kasbah Bab Ourika in the Atlas Mountains, overlooking the Ourika Valley and will be back.  We drove from Essaouira to the Kasbah enjoying the sights and sounds of rural Morocco along the way.

The Kasbah has a magical setting in breathtaking mountain scenery.  It is a joy to relax, unwind and breath in the mountain air.  The perfect retreat after a hectic stay in the Medina of Essouaira.

Gardens at Kasbah Bab Ourika

The setting and the gardens are a highlight here.  What a treat to find such beautiful gardens high up in the mountains!  Enjoy the outdoor swimming Pool and Hammam.  I stayed in a suite decorated in a simple Berber style, making good use of local materials and fabric.  Simple but chic.

Enjoy a mountain view from the bed in the morning, open the doors and step out into a sweet little private garden to enjoy your morning tea!

Private little Garden outside the suite at Kasbah Bab Ourika

We asked for twin beds but there was the option of a larger bed. The bathroom with a shower was simple but functional.

Bedroom at Kasbah Bab Ourika

Enjoy meals in the charming Courtyard restaurant.

Charming Restaurant setting

We enjoyed breakfast on the terrace and tried a Berber Omelette, which was delicious and you should try when you visit.

Terrace for Breakfast

Hiking:

I would definitely recommend a hike with a local guide arranged by the Kasbah.  Hassan was a wonderful guide for our two hour hike followed by lunch in a Berber house cooked by a Berber family which was delicious and a very unique experience.

Views of the Atlas Mountains on my hike

The food was delicious and vegetarian as we requested.  Definitely a terrific experience!

Walking through Berber Village

Lunch with a Berber family

My drive back to Marrakesh airport was very easy and straight forward and it took me 45 minutes.  Kasbah Bab Ourika is a lovely mountain retreat but within easy access of Marrakesh.  I would recommend hiring a car and driving yourself around in Morocco, we were 2 women and felt safe and happy for the entire trip.  The people of Morocco are a delight.

Kasbah Bab Ourika

Information:

Kasbah Hab Ourika, Ourika Valley, Tnin Ourika, Morocco tel: +212668749547

http://www.kasbahbabourika.com

 

Camel Trek in Essaouira

My Diva Road trip around Morocco with honorary Diva Melanie, photographer for the trip! We loved Essaouira and this is my favourite place to visit in Morocco.  I loved the laid back beach vibe, the beautiful Old Town Medina, friendly people, stunning location ….. can you tell I loved it?  I will be back for sure!  If you go to one place in Morocco, this would be my recommendation.

Essaouira Medina – A cultural and shopping delight! All photos of me taken by @lemanieg

I stayed in a Riad located within the Medina which was a unique and fun experience and something you should do at least once during a trip to Morocco to get a different experience.  The local people were so friendly and I felt like a local after a 3 day stay! However, if you want a more relaxed vibe there are plenty of nice hotels and villas to choose from and you will be spoilt for choice.

Shopping in the Souk at Essaouira

The Souk is a delight, stay away from the main streets and you will find a treasure trove of Spices, delicious Moroccan pastries, just about everything you could wish for!

Pots Galore at Essaouira

I bought some pots, dates, spice mixes to bring home to France.

Camel trekking

Regular readers know I love Camels, so this was heaven for me!  Choose to go on a short trek or overnight and camp.  My Camel trek was a highlight of my trip and I recommend the company I used, see the information section at the bottom of the page.

James, my Camel and me

It was such a treat exploring on James the Camel with just my guide for company.

Then, the next day I used the same company to arrange a horse ride which was just as fun as the Camels but a lot faster!  They have beautiful horses, well looked after and cared for which is essential.

My view between the ears of Aziz

To be honest, for me it just doesn’t get better than this!  Cantering along on a pristine, unspoilt beach on a cracking little horse with a good guide for company.  The perfect morning.

Exploring the Essaouira coastline on a horse

The Old Port:

The Port is a fascinating place to explore and take photos of the iconic blue fishing boats.  Just around the corner are the little fish shack restaurants, where you choose a fish and they cook it immediately.  Delicious, clean and simple food but beware make sure you barter because prices are high.

Old Port of Essouaira

The Old port of Essouaira is charming and iconic for photographers on Instagram!  It is impossible to take a bad photo and the fisherman don’t seem to mind.  The history of the port stretches back into time to 1770.  This was the most important trading port between Europe, Africa and the Americas, originally named Mogador.

Free trade policies were encouraged by Sultan Ben Abdellah who encouraged the settlement of rich merchants and Jews to settle and work in Mogador. This was an important trading port.

Iconic Blue fishing boats

I enjoyed a delicious Lobster lunch at one of the little shacks around the port.  It was the best ever, but very expensive and I should have bartered really!

Delicious Lobster lunch at the Port

Beautiful old ruin in Essaouira

Above is a stunning old building, owned by Jewish traders and abandoned in the 1960’s.  Moroccan law dictates that abandoned properties are left for 100 years incase the descendants owners decide to return and claim the property.

A perfect end to a perfect day

Above is a photo taken admiring the view from one of the bars serving alcohol in Essaouira.  These are obviously popular with visitors to the town!

Definitely put Essaouira on your Morocco itinerary.  We hired a car at Marrakesh Airport and happily and safely drove all around the country from Marrakesh to Agadir to Essaouira to the Atlas mountains to Marrakesh.  The roads are perfectly safe, fellow drivers very well behaved, and the people of Morocco delightful and helpful.  Get out and explore!

The Souk at Essaouira

Information:

Essaouira information: Arrange a Camel, Horse, Quad adventure with: http://www.rando-dunes.com

Book a hotel or Riad by clicking on my Booking.com link on the right hand side of this page

http://www.essaouira.nu

Beach at Paradis Plage Resort

My second stop on our Diva Road Trip around Morocco was at Paradis Plage Surf Yoga and Spa.  Set on a stunning beach, popular with surfers and holiday makers looking for a chilled out relaxation break, it has stunning views of the coastline.

Paradis Plage, view from my hotel suite

A lovely welcome at Paradis Plage!

Enjoying a welcome drink!

The resort is a 20 minute drive from Agadir and I enjoyed a two night stay here.  I spent my time walking on the beach, riding, exploring the area, practicing Yoga and chilling out!  There was a mix of guests from couples, to young families.  There were a lot of children staying and they have a Creche to enjoy.

View from my Premium Suite

My suite was very comfortable and enjoyed a terrace with spectacular views, pictured above.  It was comfortable, modern and clean with a little sitting room, looking out over the sea.

My living Room in the Premium Suite

The bedroom was small but the bed very comfortable and quiet.  I would recommend more wardrobe space!  My usual Diva problem of living out of a suitcase.

My bedroom at Paradis Plage

The bathroom was large with a big shower.  A little kitchen area was a very useful addition too.  You can enjoy the gorgeous Yoga Studio overlooking the beach, a good Surf Centre with instructors, The Spa is very luxurious with a Hammam, Sauna, massages and all the usual Spa treatments.

The Gym at Paradis Plage

I enjoyed the gym at Paradis Plage and a training session with the excellent trainer and a wonderful Yoga session.

Stunning, endless beach at Paradis Plage

For me, the setting of the resort was just so special.  The coastline is unspoilt with unrivalled views and crystal clear sea water.  Enjoy horsehides along the beach on well cared for horses or even a Camel ride!  Relax and unwind in this eco friendly resort.

Resort Pool

Breakfast at Paradis Plage

Then you can enjoy the restaurants here, breakfast pictured above in the Ocean Restaurant was a good selection and choice. We enjoyed a nice evening meal  by the beach at Chiringuito.  There is a good selection of restaurants to enjoy or visit the local restaurants in the nearby villages if you have a car.

 

Information:

http://www.paradisplage.com   Tel: +212 (0)528200382

26 km from Agadir on the route d’Essaouira, Imi Ouaddar

IMG_2428-3Ventimiglia Italy

Go to Italy!

A visit to the markets of Liguria, Italy is a very popular activity especially for food lovers and bargain hunters.  Ventimiglia is just a short train ride from France and people flock over the border on market days, particularly on Friday when hundreds of stalls have something for everyone.  My friends and I love going to Italy – as soon as you leave the french border and (some of, most are nice)  grumpy french people behind you will find a happy, smiling and friendly Italian!  I know, I know it is a huge generalisation but it is TRUE!

Well pop over the border to Italy for some happy people!

The change in the temperament of the people is quite unbelievable!The Italian joie de vivre is infectious and you will soon be smiling too!  Loud and gregarious but quite mad behind a steering wheel, so take care on the roads.  They can be very excitable too and are not as keen on dogs as the french, which is annoying for my pooches Freddie and Zarya .  Although in general the dogs are welcome everywhere they are not doted on quite as much as in France.

I’m not keen on market tat and fake handbags but I do love to buy all my fruit vegetables, pasta Parmegiano cheese and all sorts of delicious foodie delights.  If you go to Ventimiglia there are some wonderful little seafood restaurants for lunch right on the beach.  Turn right before the river and drive into the lovely old town and you have 3 good seaside restaurants by the beach.

San Remo, Italy

I prefer the market in San Remo.  The town is much prettier with beautiful gardens and little restaurants along the seafront.  My favourite food shops are here too!  I go to the Tuesday market.  Catch a train or drive from France.

PicMonkey Collage-2My favourite deli in San Remo – you can’t miss it near the market

There are many plant growers in this part of Italy too and I buy some fabulous things for the garden.

italy-2San Remo town centre flower stall and food stall at the indoor market

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Old town in San Remo

You will love all the little clothes shops in San Remo and rummaging around in the old town before indulging in a delicious real Italian food lunch at any of the countless family run restaurants.  My favourite market day lunch is lobster spaghetti – yum!

And now over to my collaborators Paolo and Amalia, who are a little further south in Genoa, a wonderful city and if you are there make sure not to miss the red and white museums.  They are Italian and so can give us a real Italian perspective, which is great. Hang around the World:

italiano
The markets are really interesting places where you can learn about different aspects of the city, such as: traditions, history and the smells of the city but also everyday life. It is an opportunity to get inside the city and meld with it.
Every city has its own market and Italy is full of typical markets but today we’re going to know one in particular… Mercato Orientale located in Genova.
The market is in via XX Settembre and it is housed in a large and historic structure. Entering you can already immerse yourself in the flavors and in the smells of the city, thanks to the various street food stalls that sell typical products of the city.
We tasted the delicious pinolate (almonds and pine nut cookies). Continuing the tour you can find fruit and vegetable stalls. Looking through these, we knew the preboggion a mixture of wild herbs typical of Ligurian cuisine. There are also stalls with a wide assortment of meat and fish from the Ligurian sea (such as: triglia di scoglio, orate, acciughe, pesce spada… ). We also have spotted a bakery and a fresh pasta stall that had a really inviting look. Then we had a break in a cafè always inside the market.
After this we continued our tour and we headed to a colorful exposition of plants and flowers of all kinds. Continuing in that direction we came across other stalls that sold clothing, housewares, footwear and there was also a costume jewelry store. Finished our tour we can say that we have found lots of cordiality (in fact we chatted with a sweet old lady who was at the fruit stall with us and she has revealed that what is not in the market, doesn’t exist that means that there you can find everything you need) and also organization and cheapness of the products.
If you were there we hope we have made you relive those moments, if you haven’t been there you just have to visit it and watch the market with your own eyes.
We hope you enjoyed this tour in the Genova market and we hope that it has been helpful. Bye and a big kiss to everyone – Hang Around The World