Posts from June 2014

Croatia

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ITINERARY: This was a week long trip to the islands of Hvar and Brac in Croatia with two dear friends and it was all about relaxing and enjoying the nice weather. It was my first time to visit Croatia and I was blown away by the beauty of the place (it has a very similar vibe to some parts of Italy). The rocky beaches made for incredibly clear water that ranged from the most beautiful shades of green and blue depending on the time of day. And those sames greens and blues popped up everywhere on the islands (doorways, shutters, foliage) and were accented by an incredible orange/red that kept showing up in the roof tiles, boats, etc. When we arrived I was a little bit afraid that I had not brought enough film because everything was so picturesque!

TRAVEL TIME: For this trip we flew from London into Split via Zurich, hopped in a taxi to the port and then set off on a ferry to Hvar. The ferries run pretty frequently so no need to book ahead. After two days in Hvar we then took another ferry to the island of Brac and a short taxi ride (though a little scary as the roads were quite windy and mountainous) to our villa in Postira.

SLEEP: The first two nights we spent on Hvar at the Amfora Hvar Grand Beach Resort. My favorite things about this hotel were the view, the pool (which had a water slide!), proximity to the sea and the fact that it is a little bit away from the town center which can get pretty rowdy at night time. The rest of the week was spent in the town of Postira on Brac (another island just a short ferry ride from Hvar) at the loveliest little villa. The owners of the villa were so hospitable and greeted us with wine and a meat and cheese plate upon arrival. The villa has a beautiful ocean view, is steps from a lovely little beach, has its own pool and an outdoor grill that we used for almost every meal. It was nice to end the trip in a place that felt like a home away from home where we could cook for ourselves and stick to our own schedule.

EAT & DRINK: 

  • Hula Hula is a beachside restaurant and bar that was just around the corner from out hotel. We spent an afternoon here sipping on cocktails, eating and soaking up some sun. A great place to watch the sunset.
  • Hvar turns into quite a lively night spot in the evening and there are lots of places to choose from to grab a bite or some drinks. One spot we went to that had good cocktails and is located right along the harbour is Carpe Diem
  • Once we moved islands we spent most of our time eating and drinking at the villa we rented as opposed to eating out. We did have a great little neighborhood beachside bar that was a few steps from our villa but the town of Postira is so small I couldn’t find a website. Sorry!

TO DO: As I said before, this trip was all about relaxing and enjoying the warm weather and that is pretty much what we did! The beach or pool was visited every day and maybe interspersed with a drive to a new town, a walk to see some sights, or a competitive game of cards over a few beers. Pretty much every evening in Postira we had a BBQ and stuffed ourselves silly with delicious food. We came into the trip with no plans except for where we wold be staying and I would not have changed a thing!

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Samuel / EC2

A portrait series of people who call London home.

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How long have you lived in London?

7 Years since leaving home, Spain.

What makes someone a Londoner?

There is a rhythm to this city that you feel as soon as you step onto the streets. It’s exhausting at times but there’s a thrill to it, and once you get used to it everything else just seems slow and boring.

North London or South London?

I’ve had a fair share of both, but North just seems closer to everything.

Favorite thing about living in London?

It’s culture, by far. People come from all over the world to feel once-in-a-lifetime experiences and sometimes we take it all for granted. I feel very fortunate for being able to spend such a crucial moment of my life here in London.

Least favorite thing about living in London?

Certainly the tube in peak hours.

Favorite spot to grab a drink?

I love a good pub and here in Shoreditch there are plenty.

Favorite spot to grab a bite?

Whitecross Street Market. Weekdays 12 – 2 pm. Weekends I tend to go to J+A Café in Clerkenwell.

Taxi, Tube, Bus, Bike or Walk?

Bike. It’s cheap, you get there faster, you look great on it and it’s good for your health.

Where do you go to get away from the city?

I was born and bred in the Canary Island, so it seems convenient to go back for a few days when you need a break from it all.

Kyoto

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ITINERARY: A week long trip with my husband and two of our friends to Japan with stops in Tokyo and Kyoto. This was the first time for any of us to visit Japan and we really wanted to see as much as possible and I think we did a pretty good job. I have to give major credit to our friend Chelsea who planned everything to a “T” and really did her research!

TRAVEL TIME: We started our trip to Japan in Tokyo so we decided to take a bullet train from Tokyo to Kyoto which took about 3 hours and was a very comfortable ride. The train system in Japan is pretty great and very punctual.

SLEEP: Because we were visiting during a fairly busy season for Kyoto we had a little bit of a difficult time finding places to stay. In the end we split our three nights between two different hotels, both of which ended up being amazing.

The first place where we stayed, Ryokan Ugenta, is nestled in a valley along a creek about 45 minutes outside of central Kyoto but they offer a free transfer from the local train station to the ryokan so that made it pretty easy to get to. A Ryokan is a type of traditional Japanese Inn and most are known for their service as well their food. At Ugenta there are only two rooms, one is a traditional Japanese style room and the other is more contemporary, known as the “Western” room. Both rooms have a private rooftop tub and shower which look out onto the beautiful hillside. It was incredibly relaxing to end the day with a soak as you listen to the birds chirping in the trees above. Breakfast and dinner are included with the room rate and I highly recommend both. For breakfast you can choose between Western or traditional Japanese and dinner is a a 10 course meal unlike anything I’ve had before. The litle town where Ugenta is located is very peaceful and also worth taking a look around.

Our final night in Kyoto was spent at another amazing resort called Hoshinoya which is located in the Arashiyama district of Kyoto. To reach Hoshinoya, you must take a boat ride along the river Ooi which is an incredibly calming way to travel. When you arrive, the beauty of your surroundings is almost overwhelming. We arrived in the early evening and had just enough time to change before heading to dinner which was another delicious 10 or so course meal of seasonal Japanese cuisine. Because it was our last day in Kyoto and we wanted to explore the city as much as possible we weren’t able to fully take advantage of all that Hoshinoya has to offer but the spa looked top notch and if you fid yourself in the area, I would definitely check it out.

EAT & DRINK:

  • Café Bibliotic Hello!This cafe was recommended to us by multiple people and we had read about it on a few blogs too. We ate lunch here one day and also grabbed a few sweet things from the bakery for later on. The coffee was great as was the food and there was free wifi to boot!
  • OmenAnother lunch spot that was recommended to us by Kyoto locals, the thing to order here are the udon noodle dishes. The noodles are served on their own along with a bowl of tsuyu (a broth) which you season with ground sesame and then add in the noodles and veggies. Delicious!

TO DO:

  • Ginkakuji (The Silver Pavilion)This was the first temple we visited in Kyoto and my favorite as well. While not as big as the Golden Temple, the surroundings where much more beautiful in my opinion and it was much less crowded. This was also my first experience viewing a sand garden as well as a moss garden.
  • Kinkakuji (The Golden Pavilion)The Golden Pavilion sounds exactly like what it is and that is a temple that is covered in gold leaf. The temple is beautiful and a true site to behold but it can get busy quickly so I suggest visiting earlier in the day to avoid crowds.
  • Saiho-ji (The Moss Temple)The Moss Temple was so beautiful but it takes some planning to visit. You must have a reservation in order to visit and once you arrive you each visitor is asked to copy a sutra and take part in the monks’ religious chants. To copy the sutra you are given a sheet of paper where you trace Japanese characters while kneeling at a low desk. When you are finished, you present your sutra paper to the alter and then can walk to the moss garden.
  • Philosopher’s WalkThis 2 km stone path follows along a canal in the northern part of Kyoto. It begins near the Silver Pavilion and is bordered by shops, cafes and restaurants. We were visiting at the tail end of the cherry blossom season and were lucky to catch a few trees still in bloom. This was a peaceful way to see a part of Kyoto and was one of my favorite parts of the city.
  • Fushimi Inari Shrine: This Shinto shrine in southern Kyoto is surrounded by thousands of torii gates that you can walk through up to the top of the surrounding hills where a beautiful view of Kyoto awaits you below. This is another spot that can get crowded but if you keep walking you can easily get away from the crowds.
  • Nishiki MarketThis is Kyoto’s street market and offers everything from food and drink to knick knacks.
  • The Bamboo ForestBefore our trip I had only seen photos of the Bamboo Forest in Kyoto but I knew that I had to visit here. Luckily on our last day I had about 30 minutes to check it out and I am so glad I did. There is a single path that leads you through the bamboo and the sight it truly breathtaking. I’ve never seen bamboo so tall before and the color of green was just beautiful. I took a lot of photos here (probably too many) but they don’t do justice to the beauty of the place. Definitely stop by if you can!

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Regent’s Canal: Spring

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One of my favorite semi-hidden gems in London is the Regent’s Canal that stretches from Little Venice across North London to the Limehouse Basin. On any given day you will see people taking a stroll, going for a run, biking or boating along the canal. And depending where you are, there is usually a nice spot to peel off from the path and explore London. Since we live so close, I am documenting the way it changes through the seasons. These shots are from springtime on the canal a little further west of the winter images. This part of the canal runs along Regent’s Park and the London Zoo and looks onto the backs of some beautiful houses.

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You can view images of the canal from winter here.

 

Chungmin / E1

A portrait series of people who call London home.

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How long have you lived in London?

7 Years in September.

What makes someone a Londoner?

A Londoner is someone who can (deeply) appreciate the sun and temperature above 20C. Also, I think a Londoner is someone who has higher level of tolerance for things like tube strikes, expensive rents and spicy Asian food.

North London or South London?

North-East!

Favorite thing about living in London?

Balance of culture and urban life.

Least favorite thing about living in London?

This is going to sound very specific but I really do not like the fabric seats on the buses and tubes. I think London had a thing or two to learn from the public transport system in Korea…

Favorite spot to grab a drink?

Shoreditch Grind by the Old Street roundabout– it’s a cafe by day and a cocktail bar by night.

Favorite spot to grab a bite?

It’s going to be difficult to pick just one restaurant so I will go with a street full of awesome restaurants– Exmouth Market in Farringdon. Go to Bonnie Gullfor seafood, Blackfoot for ribs and Moro for tapas!

Taxi, Tube, Bus, Bike or Walk?

Walk.

Where do you go to get away from the city?

Once a year I feel the need to get away from London. And when I do, it’s usually because I miss home and my dog so I take off to Korea for a week or two to recharge my battery.

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