A Travel & Lifestyle Blog

Sundays in the city

For the past couple of weeks Regent Street has been pedestrianized on Sundays for all kinds of events; themes ranged from fashion shows, to live performances and even plants and greenery;
open space and easy-going people all over, either way!
It is wonderful to walk around London not rushing, but taking a moment to look around at the magnificent architecture and the always interesting sky with clouds passing by in all shapes. Breath in and smile!

Heddon street needs no introduction, neither does Momo's.
With it's newly garden-like secluded terrace, it's the perfect spot for a lazy Sunday afternoon of indulging, with family and friends visiting. There were wraps and mojitos, wine, cold coffee and then shisha and mezze and more wraps...and we were still not moving!
Sitting back listening to live jazz music from the street seemed like the perfect way to relax right in the heart of the buzzing city. No mention of the fact that our wedding week was about to begin!

Did I mention the wraps? Oh my! The lamb ones are right up there with our favourite shawarmas from Cafe Helen's and Ranoush's. (By the way, if you are ever in desperate need of food in the early morning hours do queue up at Café Helen's in Edgware road; there is always a queue, for good reason!)

Flaky, well cooked lamb and creamy mustardy dressing, all in a soft pitta bread - delicious! One of my must-haves at Momo's is always the cheese briouats, crispy filo pastries filled with soft, herbed cheese, not be shared! And last but not least, cold coffee to break  the midday heat, right next to vanilla shisha - a flavour of Morocco on an easy-going Sunday afternoon.
It's the simple things in life! x


Holidaying at home

When everybody seems to be on holiday apart from you, you feel rather miserable, am I right?
It happens! Oh, don't be a baby!
All you need to do is head to Windsor, with its' tiny cobbled streets, it's such a charming place to be on a sunny summer evening.

There is the riverside off course, with the very popular Brown's restaurant or the upmarket Sir Christopher Wren's Hotel terrace; but sometimes it's worth heading up towards the old centre to discover a quaint corner packed with pubs and restaurants, right across from the Castle entrance. Tables are set outside on the cobbled streets, squeezed between old, traditional buildings, and walls that are dotted with baskets full of colourful flowers.
When you look up at the sky, you see the sun shining on the clouds and you really feel like you are in Majorca or Tenerife.

There is ample choice of restaurants but we chose Latino taverna this time, for a spot of Greek mezze, to complete the Med feeling we started building up!

Lovely soft keftedes (meatballs), juicy dolmades (rice and minced pork wrapped in vine leaves), grilled halloumi and a fresh salad.
As for drinks, I went with a glass of crisp and slightly sweet rose Tsantali wine, while my fiance had an Ouzo cocktail with sprite and strawberry liqueur; Pink Ouzo? Interesting!

What is your holiday-pretend place?


B.Y.O.C., Covent Garden

Prepare to get intimate!
Intimate with your party, as well as everybody else in the place.
This is a Prohibition era bar at the basement of a juice bar in Covent Garden.

Unlike the movie "Lawless" you won't need to sneak around in secret but you will feel rather naughty walking around Covent Garden with bottles of alcohol in a paper bag, in your quest to find this place! That's how we felt, anyway!  

It's all part of the charm!
Did I mention that there are no signs?
The directions go a bit like this: ...look for the juice bar next to the lamp-post! 
The bar is tiny hence, pick your party wisely because you will be chatting and mingling very closely for the next two hours!
Here's the interesting part: you bring your favourite kind of alcohol, as much as you like, you pay a flat fee £20 and they make cocktails for you the rest of the time, using your drink as a base.

We went bearing Honey Whiskey and Vanilla Vodka;
oh, and just for laughs we took a bottle of Ginger beer along, too!

First up was a cocktail with yellow pepper juice as a base and whiskey...no it didn't taste like a salad in a glass, as I first thought it would but it was quite an interesting flavour nevertheless, I  haven't got the final verdict yet!
My advice is to avoid bringing along overpowering spirits, simpler ones will give you a good base for lots of different cocktails. 

Next up were all kinds of sweet syrups like rose and lavender...yum!
The mixologist (I had to think about this one because as there is no bar, he couldn't be a barman) was very chatty and he is happy for you to try and sniff all of his syrups and juices in search of your favourite potion.

He even made Crabbies ginger beer work, so "well done" Nathaniel!
All in all, an interesting experience. 

PS: Apologies for the dark pictures, it was all a bit dim-lit, just perfect to get you into the speakeasy mood!

Life is a beach: Agia Marina & Kaiki

Agia Marina beach
During our weekend endeavours in Spetses we discovered two beautiful beaches.
"Agia Marina", a short walk from town and "Kaiki", a short water taxi ride away!
Both beaches are organised with beach bars that serve food and drinks right to your sun lounger. 
view from the beach bar at Agia Marina beach
Agia Marina beach is a pebbly one, easy to walk on though.
The water was so clear that we could see the tinsy-wincy fish swimming around. It felt chilled at first but after spending the whole day in the sun it was rather refreshing. 
The walk to Agia Marina is so rustic, passing by lemon groves, walls covered in fuchsia bougainvilleas and pine trees with their lower trunks painted white to avoid insects attacking them!
The bar-staff that came down to our lounger were very friendly and as soon as they heard  that we were there on a hen, we got a jug of Pina Colada on the house...followed by Masticha liqueur shots!

a jug of Pina Colada to match the blue of the sea! 

yeap! focaccia with fresh and juicy tomatoes right at your...lounger! 
Kaiki Beach is a bit more upmarket, staff wear headphones to communicate with each other, in order to direct you to your sun lounger. How Hollywood!
You can even reserve your lounger, in case you end up waking up late, after a heavy night out and cannot get a spot on the beach! It seems that life here is planned around...living! 

water taxi leaving Spetses port to Kaiki Beach

The water-taxi ride to Kaiki beach is such a thrill, the boat speeds up almost straight away and you have the best view of Spetses town with the imposing Poseidonio Hotel.
Needless to say we went outside and took pictures the whole way, splashed by water every step of the way but hey, it was a hot day so no biggie! 

one mojito, one strawberry caipirina and a club sandwich coming right up @ Kaiki Beach

Henley Regatta

Boy it was hot! Murray playing in Wimbledon,  the Regatta underway in Henley and the weather wasn't bad either! Hottest day of the year in UK yet. That's a fun Sunday!

Busy Thames, view from the Regatta Enclosure
race underway...
The riverside in Henley transformed to a fun promenade dotted with all kinds of hospitality tents, bars and food stands. It felt like the clubbing scene from London had moved down to Henley for the weekend! Mahiki and Juju both set up shop with music, cocktails, champagne and massive screens with tennis on from Wimbledon. Lots of people had claimed their spot right on the river bank from earlier on, setting our blankets, picnics, strawberries all in the name of a good view and a good tan!

It wouldn't be a fun day without a traditional
bright red double-decker!
view of the race from 
the Juju tent
Tuna Burger with Couscous 
and a jug of Pimms, yum!

We headed for the Regatta enclosure, where there were organised seats and stands with uninterrupted view of the river and the race. Such a crazy mixture of people, from uni students and sports fans in shorts and flip-flops to ladies with elegant dresses and elaborate head-gear...everything goes! Men stood out this time wearing blazers with bright and interesting colours, representing their rowing clubs, countries or universities.  Pimms and champagne were flowing non-stop with the occasional screaming and cheering from  spectators supporting their favourite rowing team, as they rowed past the enclosure. It is so thrilling to join in a group of whole-hearted supporters, it always gives me goosebumps.

Mahiki cocktails and
coconut bomb! Perfect for
scorching hot days!
Any excuse for a new dress!

This one is from Phase Eight 

The river was so busy that three different lanes had to be created to accommodate all traffic! One for general public and private boats, one for the rowing and one for the regatta transportation boats. Oh the boats...such beauties, from simple sleek rowing boats to classic shiny power boats and off course the gold trimmed, banner-bearing Regatta flagship closing off the ceremony in all of its' glory. All in all a great day out! 

A touch of gold  and grandeur for the finale!

Island Life: Spetses

Now! To get the full effect of this post I'd like you to play "Summercat" by Billy the Vision and the Dancers in the background...you'll see what I mean, it fits right in with summery island mischief! 

First stop aboard the "flying dolphin": Poros

departing Poros
All aboard the "flying dolphin": View of the very narrow straight between Poros and Galatas
Docking in Hydra 

Spetses is a feel-good place! How couldn't it be, you must board the "flying dolphin" to get there! No acrobatics involved! Just a high speed boat that lifts up when speeding through the blue waters! The boat ride is two hours from Piraeus, stopping on the way at two cute little islands Poros and Hydra. All three islands are ideal for weekends because they are small and compact and oh-so-quaint.

Poseidon Hotel, a landmark right in the new port, Spetses

ice cream and strolling on Spetses town promenade
No cars are allowed so getting around the island has a 50's feel; your options include romantic horse carriages and water taxis but also much cooler quad-bikes. There is plenty of walking off course, but coupled with the slow pace of life, it turns out to be strolling no matter what time of the day. It makes you slow down and take it easy. No timetables, no rush. Horse carriages are available until midnight and water taxis 24/7! Sorted. 

make friends!
On our first night, after feasting on all sorts of barbecued delicacies while washing them down with home wine, we decided that walking wasn't an option and that it had to be a horse carriage taking us back to our hotel. Long story short, I ended up seating right next to the carriage driver. Rhythmic horseshoe clicking and tapping on the cobbled alleys, minimal street lighting, moonlight and us giggling all the way - such a calming and soothing experience!

beautiful mosaics found at most house entrances
All you really need is a swimsuit, a cover up, hat and sunglasses! There are so many shops right behind the new port, for all budgets and tastes. From souvenir pound-shops to elegant boutiques, you name it, they've got it! They even stay open until 12 o'clock at night, as I mentioned before: no rushing!   Most restaurants are on the stretch between the new and the old port.  The ones closer to the new port are more touristic but their food is still fresh and the quality quite good. We did try the Orloff Restaurant, great location, slightly elevated from the main road with a great view of the port, on the pricey side but great food such as succulent leg of lamb and juicy swordfish steaks! Another funky place was Mouragio, restaurant, turned bar, turned nightclub pass one o'clock in the morning...nobody goes to bed early here. Unless it's early in the morning off course!

an alternative taxi rank in the new port of Spetses
Sun and heat aside, strolling around is blissful. Pass by fragrant lemon and orange groves on your way to the beach; discover ice cream shops and bakeries on every corner on your way to get a sea taxi; stop at half-open house gates to glimpse over the old outdoor entrance mosaics and colourful bougainvilleas. The little joys of island life! x

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