.: Exploring Kyoto – final round :.

Hard to believe after months I’ve finally managed to check all my photos from Japan. It was really good to revisit them, it made my wish to come back even stronger!

I only had the chance to visit Tokyo and Kyoto – which means a good excuse to be back and explore the mountains and other cities – but I have to say it was the best trip I’ve ever done. Not only because I loved all the places, but because it was a full journey: a journey on my mind discovering peace like never before, a journey through Japan’s amazing cuisine, and then all the history around it.

Food-wise we’ve discover not only their cuisine is amazing: not just sushi, but the ramen, yakitori, any rice dishes, all of it! Funnily enough the only thing I avoid is tempura which was introduced by the Portuguese (I avoid fried stuff) – but they also master anything else. I swear I had the best donuts in my life there! We found an amazing cafe at the Kyoto station where we would have a 2nd breakfast almost daily (we were still jet lagged, so we would wake up and have breakfast before 06a.m)

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(I found really amazing the contrast between the gigantic Kyoto station and the rest of the city! we’ve got lost a few times in there and I think there are around 3 shopping malls inside. Yap!)

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Even street food was also quite amazing

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I love gyoza!!!

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One of the most famous places in Kyoto is the Bamboo Grove, which is set in the pretty village of Arashiyama. Again totally recommended that you go early in the morning to avoid the crowds, plus the morning light really transforms this place

Even at the time we went, we’ve already struggled to get photos without any people on the frame.

Then we went back to central Kyoto to explore the neighbourhoods

And more temples in the afternoon. This was one of my favourite, especially closer to the end of the day, where it was really peaceful (Chion-in)

Next morning our mission was to visit the famous red doors (Fushimi Inari Taisha). Whereas we’ve managed to arrive before the crowds, it was actually raining cats & dogs

Here’s the funny bit. I thought these was just a long corridor, what I hadn’t realised was it’s a whole mountain to climb full of red doors!!! I didn’t made it to the top, as I was struggling with all the stairs (the perks of pregnancy I guess). It’s more than 1h up! Because it was raining so much, I was struggling to hold the umbrella and the camera at the same time!

It’s a place I have to go back too, because I felt I hadn’t explored enough of it. After that we went to another really famous place, the Golden Temple     (Kinkaku-ji)

Again it was still raining quite a lot, and this is where I’ve really struggled to make the most of my 28mm lens. Yap, because I gave him my zoom lens, I’ve spend all our journey using nothing else but the 28mm.

And back to Kyoto centre

I really miss it! This journey will always be special in our hearts, because it was my dream trip and because it was the last trip we’ve done together before baby arrives🙂

.: Exploring Kyoto :.

If there’s a city that’s now special in my heart, that’s definitely Kyoto. I loved Tokyo too, it’s so diverse, the amazing buildings, a city that doesn’t seem to sleep and yet you can find amazing quiet places. And the food…. ahhh all the food available. But Kyoto brought be down to tranquillity, exploring the temples and just walking around in the gardens. It was absolutely inspiring. Yes we were in areas that were crowded with tourists, but overall the feeling was peaceful. The jet lag was worth so we would wake up quite early in the mornings and avoid the crowds.

But first let me start with something interesting. On our last night in Tokyo I’ve accidentally discovered that another friend of mine was in Kyoto, next day would be her last night in Kyoto, whereas it would be our first night there. What a coincidence! So our first stop in Kyoto after checking in the house was to meet her for dinner

We went to this traditional sake house in Gion. There was a significant wait, but I dare to say it was worth it

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Really delicious food! It was also amazing to catch up with a friend I hadn’t seen in almost 2 years!!! Next morning we were ready to start exploring around. We took a bus to an area which has a lot of temples to explore. There was almost no one outside and it felt so peaceful and quiet. On our way we’ve even seen the kids going to the school (exactly like in the anime movies, including the kids at the windows waving to their friends).

(Nazen-Ji temple). You can go upstairs on this one, and it’s worth it as the view is pretty good

(Tenjuan temple)

Konchi-in Temple

More than in Tokyo, you’ll see lots of tourists renting a kimono. They are so gorgeous after all! We were having fun trying to identify Japanese ladies (who can wear them with such a finesse and class!) from tourists.

Some Geishas seem to work as tour-guides as well.

Then we’ve reached one of the most touristic areas in Kyoto, the Kiyomizu-dera Temple. On the way there you’ll be crossing the old part of town. It’s such a pretty area!

Inspiring isn’t it? Have you been in Kyoto before?

.: Nespresso Cafe :.

As he went to stock coffee for us the other day, he arrived home with a voucher for the new Nespresso Cafe. I had no idea it was already opened. I’m quite a fan of the nespresso concept. Even though I’m really craving to have a proper professional coffee machine at home:

Maybe something like this (Bean to cup) – where pretty much everything is automated

(Delonghi Bean to Cup link to amazon)

Or even one like this (as I still enjoy the manual process)

(Available from amazon here)

But indeed if you want convenience, the nespresso capsules are pretty good. The best part is that since the patent for the capsules expired, there are loads of brands out there offering capsules as well (although not as reliable as the nespresso ones).

I have one of this at home

Bundled with my beloved aeroccino

You can buy the coffee machines with the aeroccino included, but they tend to be a lot more expensive than if bought separately. Plus it makes a lot easier to have them separately to organise the kitchen space. I used my aeroccino at least once daily and it still works. Love it!

So yap, once we’ve discovered there was a new Cafe in town we had to try it. For example, our portuguese brand Delta, has this concept for more than 7 years now. The stores are really beautifully decorated (Delta Q)

So it was about time for Nespresso to pick up the boat as well. Similar to the concept in Portugal. Nespresso Cafe is conveniently located near St Pauls, which makes it a perfect escape over lunch in the city (not so great for the weekend), but hopefully this will be just the first if many cafes. The store is really well decorated (it’s Nespresso, so what else?) They also have some sandwiches in case you want something more consistent to go with your coffee.

Photo from official website

We’ve tried the coffee creations. He had the Wake up wonder (Coffee, Muesli and Caramel)

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Really tasty and perfect for the any time of the day to be honest!

I went for the Chocolate Dream (which is ultimately an affogato). I couldn’t resist chocolate. (Ristretto + ice cream and cream on top), I would remove the cream and leave it as a classic affogato, but that’s just me.

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He couldn’t resist to try the sweet temptations as well. He went for the Ricotta blueberry cheesecake. 13932803_10208041957701532_2655497728167855411_n

I went for the brownie. But hold on that this wasn’t a regular brownie, it was actually an avocado one (so a healthier option). There’s a similar recipe here. It was really creamy and I could still feel the avocado flavour, so really enjoyed it.

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It’s not a cheap option, but the prices are not that far from what you would get in a starbucks and you get better flavours. The plus side is that you can even stock up on your coffee, as you have the nespresso cubes where you can buy your favourite capsules (card only, apparently it doesn’t accept cash).

So overall really enjoyed my visit. Would feel bad to pay £1.90 for a ristretto though, knowing it’s £0.27 a capsule at home🙂

.: Zen Garden – Kyoto :.

You know those places that really become so special to you that it starts to become really easy to imagine you’re there again? Well, while exploring Kyoto I found one of those places, a beautiful Japanese Zen Garden. Just walking in the tatami felt so relaxing! The only thing that really spoiled the moment was this annoying kid running around all over the place and screaming a few times, but we’ve stayed long enough to be able to enjoy the place without him (I still can’t  believe the parents said nothing! In such a gorgeous quiet place, he was really disturbing everyone)

So welcome to Shorenin Temple

Just by looking at the pictures again I already feel so relaxed. This place is so beautiful!

We’ve spent a lot of time just sitting down and appreciating the beauty of the gardens (and also waiting for the annoying kid to go away)

Unlike many touristic attractions in Kyoto, this was actually pretty quiet, so we’ve managed to really enjoy it

Could explore these corridors for hours, just love them! And walking bare-feet on the wood or the tatami is soooo good!

So if I need to imagine a place my heart feels in peace, this is it! I have to go back to this place one day. Seriously!

Do you have a magical place where you really feel happy and relaxed?

.: Afternoon Week :.

I really love a good afternoon tea, so couldn’t miss having one on the Afternoon Tea Week. If I needed any further reason there was also our 9th Anniversary (of living together). Probably I could have done something a bit more fancy to celebrate the occasion, but sometimes I believe you need to keep it simple🙂

And no, I didn’t went to any fancy tea either, I’ve decided to go pretty much next door, have a walk in Richmond and enjoy a good delicious relaxing tea.

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Richmond is one of my favourite places in the world. I never get tired of having a walk along the river here, it always makes me feel really calm and relaxed.

For the tea, the choice was Muriel’s Kitchen. I had seen this place lots of times and it was on my wishlist for a long time. (You can see the afternoon menu here)

Loved the space immediately. Really lovely soft decor and friendly staff. As soon as you walk in you are made to feel really welcome.

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I’ve ordered a chamomile tea whereas he went for the classic Earl Grey. Both were really tasty (the teas were from teapigs). The smoothie was also pretty fresh

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The tea is served in a little picnic bench (which I found to be really cute)

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All of the sandwiches were pretty good, ranging from smoked salmon, to chicken and egg. Then moving to the scones.

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As soon as I’ve started to cut it in half I’ve noticed the texture, perfect. Not breaking apart and feeling really soft in my hands.

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After the first bite, yap, really good! One of the best I had in a long time! Finally the mini bakery, all the cakes were delicious and makes me want to try the big ones. All really fresh

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Might not seem a lot by the pictures, but I was really full. He couldn’t even finish all the cakes. So overall I’ve really enjoy my experience and honestly think this was a good choice! Will be back to try their other cakes and for more scones🙂

.: Le Boudin Blanc :.

Last week we went out for dinner middle of the week with friends who were enjoying for the first time they are parents, some time just for them. For how much you love your kids I’m sure there will always be moments you also miss the times when you could do anything you wanted, including trying new restaurants on a Thursday evening. As we’re about to join their club, felt like a really good idea to go too.

One of our friends, who loves both Marylebone and Mayfair, selected the restaurant. I can’t say no to a French restaurant and I love those areas as well! The choice was Le Boudin Blanc

Loved the environment immediately! Really cosy without being pretentious with really friendly staff. One of the staff members couldn’t speak english very well, so we had to repeat a few things, but that’s ok.

We didn’t order any starters – at least I didn’t to save some space for dessert, but we had some bread to start with. The wine menu is actually really good, but I can’t say anything about it, as at the moment I can’t drink, so had a sparkling water instead.

For mains, I’ve ordered the cod, which was absolutely delicious and creamy!

Capture

He had the lamb, which was perfectly seasoned and cooked.

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The star for me was the dessert, the Fondant au chocolat. As soon as the plate arrived I could smell it already and the small was absolutely fab! I’ve managed to finish it all and I’m glad I had saved some space for it.

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He’s crazy about lemon tarts, so he ordered the tartellete au citron. Same as my one, the smell was incredible. I had a try on it and it was superb. He was quite happy about it and said it was the best he had in a long time.

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So a really good place to go for a nice relaxing dinner, either as a couple or with a small group of friends.
Le Boudin Blanc Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

.: The Stables Pizza & Cider :.

My other half kept on talking about a new place that was going to open quite close to home, but I had no idea on what it was until he then said it was Pizza & Cider, which then reminded me The Stables (which I know from Bristol), I went to check on their website and just confirmed they had opened a branch next door!

(Photos below are from the official website)

So it was the perfect place for a Friday night after work (as we were both lazy to cook dinner).

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I hadn’t realised that before, but the menu changes based on the location. There were some specials on the menu related to the area (which is always a nice idea). I went for the pizzas again, but next time need to try a pie

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We had the garlic bread, which I totally recommend as it’s a big portion and quite tasty. Then I had a chicken and pepper pizza (even on pizzas I’m still taking into account my daily protein intake ahahahah)

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I like the pizzas because they taste like sourdough bread and are thin and crisp. They are not the best pizzas I had – for instance I still prefer the pizzas on Franco Manca and they are not that far from us either (in Chiswick), but it’s a really nice place if you enjoy trying different ciders. Their choice is really good. So I’m sure we’ll be back more often

If you want to try it you also have a Whitechapel branch.

What is your favourite pizza place in London?