rolleiflex

Bali

bali_01Falling asleep to the sounds of waves crashing and the feel of the ocean breeze on my skin, waking up to the first light of the sun breaking over the horizon, walking barefoot in the dewey grass, tasting the sweet fresh fruit for breakfast… our recent short trip to Bali was a delight for the senses. This was my first time to visit this beautiful island and the only thing I would change would be to be able to stay longer.

We stayed at the beautiful Villa Campuhan which we booked after seeing photos of it on some of my past wedding clients’ instagram accounts. Since this trip was added on to the end of a work trip to Hong Kong, we only had 2 full days to spend in Bali, the first of which we used to relax by our private pool and soak up some sun. The next day we did venture beyond the villa and visited the amazing Pura Lempuyang, the Tirta Gangga water palace and some nearby rice terraces. Since we were staying on the eastern part of the island, we pretty much stayed that way which meant we did not have time to check Ubud or Seminyak but I guess that gives us a few excuses to try and make another visit, no?

One of the highlights for me was being in Bali during a full moon which meant we got to see the locals dressed up and preparing for celebrations at temples across the island. It was a beautiful look into the lives of those that call Bali home. I don’t think my words can do justice to the beauty of the place or the kindness of the people, so I’ll let the photos tell the rest of the story…

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48 Hours in Paris

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For the past few years every October Reid’s work has taken him to Paris for a couple of days and I have been lucky to tag along and take advantage of the free hotel room. I spend the days on my own, exploring a city that I love the more often I get to visit it. It is pretty amazing to me that it is such a short train ride from London and whenever I’m in town I always think to myself that I should visit more often.

This particular trip was pretty short but I was still able to pack in a bunch of my favorite things plus a few new ones. We arrived late in the evening and headed over to Ralph’s in Saint Germain for a late dinner (We were almost the only people there!). I had a delicious burger with perfectly cooked fries and Reid had a steak. Over the next day and a half I went for runs in the Tuileries Garden, walked along the Seine, ate my weight in chocolate, visited a few shops and went to two great photography exhibits. Details and links below:

  • Angelina: A trip to Paris is never complete without at least one visit here for the sinfully good hot chocolate. It may seem touristy but I can’t help but coming here. The hot chocolate is basically as thick as a melted down bar of chocolate and then on top of that you add in whipped cream just in case it wasn’t rich enough for you.
  • Merci: This store/cafe/library is one of my favorite places to spend time. Not only is it located in the hip neighborhood of Le Marais but it is choc full of amazing clothes, furniture, kitchenware, stationery, etc. I dare you to try and visit without doing major damage to your wallet.
  • Jeu de Paume: I always like to visit at least one museum or gallery and this trip I managed to go to two that were new to me. On one of my morning runs I noticed that the Jue de Paume was advertising a new photography exhibit of American photographer Gary Winogrand that happened to begin that very day so of course I had to go. It was an amazing exhibit and included many images that had never been seen before, even by Winogrand himself. The exhibit runs through February 8, 2015.
  • The Gagosian: I had seen a few photographer friends post images on Instagram of the Peter Lindbergh exhibit at the Gagosian Gallery in Paris and I was really keen on going. It was pretty amazing to see such beautiful and iconic images up close. The exhibit runs through November 22nd of this year, so catch it while you can!
  • Comptoir de L’image: This tiny, tiny bookstore is really a hidden gem. I actually first stumbled upon it while photographing this couple and I’m so glad we found it. It has an insane selection of photography books and magazine by every photographer imaginable. There is a lot to look through and not much space to do it, but there is so much inspiration in there.
  • Buvette: Possible my favorite meal of this trip was to the adorable Buvette which was recommended to me by a friend. We ordered lot of small plates to share and talked the night away over the candlelight. It was truly a Parisian experience and I will definitely be going back my next trip to Paris!

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Barbican Conservatory

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I first visited the Barbican Centre when I photographed Samuel for his 4×3 Londoner profile. I was just short of amazed when I walked around since I had never actually been inside before. From the outside the building looks overbearing but once inside it has all sorts of wonderful things to explore like galleries, cinemas, cafes, fountains and much more. But my favorite part is the Barbican Conservatory. This hidden oasis in East London is free to the public but is only open on certain Sundays throughout the year so a little bit of planning is required before you visit (opening times are on their website). Once inside you completely forget that you are in the middle of the city as you are surrounded with green. The paths meander throughout and some even take you up a flight or two of stairs so you can view the greenery below you. Up one of these staircases is an amazing room full of every kind of succulent and cactus you can think of (it made me realize how tiny my own succulents are at home).

So if you find yourself wanting to escape to some green in the middle of the city, head on over to the Barbican Conservatory and relax amongst the endless array of plants. And maybe take some time to check out the rest of the centre too!

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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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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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