: Kew Gardens :

If there’s one place I absolutely love in London, that’s Kew Gardens, especially in a day like this. I’ll let the pictures speak for itself. I really love this place 🙂

Final stop at The Stables for pizza & cider, yum yum (I hadn’t been back ever since we moved home)

.: Syon Park Christmas Lights :.

I know it’s February and probably everyone is thinking about Valentine’s day, on how to celebrate it or ignore it completely (I’m the 2nd) but since it’s still winter, Christmas still comes to my memory. Truth is I’m just massively late editing my photos.

If there’s one thing I love about Christmas it’s the decorations and lights. London is absolutely brilliant for the Christmas Lights lovers. Last year I went to Kew Gardens this year I went to Syon Park which is really close by anyway and I have to say I was really impressed.

What is your favourite place for Christmas Lights?

.: Hatfield House :.

Ah don’t even remember when I’ve started writing this post! I would say a couple of weeks back. Anyway, one of our last breaks before baby’s arrival was a visit into the Hatfield House. I have to say I had no expectations whatsoever, but loved it! It’s one of the most beautiful houses I’ve visited in UK.

Hatfield House is part of the Treasure Houses of England. All of them are so beautiful, still have loads to explore.

Tip: Did you know that in any treasure house you can transform your ticket in an annual pass for free?

 

The first room you see is this one, absolutely stunning

 

And the most amazing queen on the frame. Gotta love gingers!

I just loved the quietness of the house and the different corners, like this one. Can imagine myself sitting here and just enjoying the view outside, reading a book or maybe if inspiration would come, write a book

 

My newish minimalistic side says this is too much decoration, as the room itself needs no further adorning, but hey, this is how it used to be

This room, with the golden room reminded me of the Vatican, with corridors full of gold

Couldn’t resist a bw photo!

Another impressive room

 

This was certainly a fav and transported me all the way to Downton Abbey

This is such an amazing floor, the tiles really work here

The estate includes it’s own chapel

Then we moved to the kitchen area

 

Beautiful isn’t it? Then we went outside to explore the gardens. We didn’t explore much as it was really quite hot and pregnant me was just boiling

Here’s a bit of Game of Thrones moment or maybe Lord of the Rings

Beautiful house don’t you think? What’s your favourite English House? Any favourite?

 

.: Exploring Bibury :.

Bibury is one of those magical places in the Cotswolds that everyone should try to visit at least once. It feels like a travel back in time. It’s also considered one of the most charming villages in UK, and I can see why!

Photo from google

So it had been in my wishlist for a while. I had already visited a few other places in the Cotswolds (like Bourton on the water or the wildlife park), but not yet Bibury. So on our way from Wales back home, we had to stop over to explore it

First we’ve stopped at The Swan Hotel for lunch and we couldn’t resist a cottage pie. I love a good pie!

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Such a beautiful place isn’t it? Then our pie arrived. Really fresh vegetables and such a tasty and filling pie!

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After lunch we were ready for a walk in Bibury. Even if it was going to be a small walk (because the village itself is quite small), it was meant to be such a pleasant one

This place looks like out of a children’s fairy tale. Absolutely beautiful!

Have you been in Bibury before? What’s your favourite village in UK?

.: A weekend in Wales :.

One of the turning point for me this year was the last May long weekend. It was a weekend where I’ve decided: that’s it, I need to change! Up to that point I was feeling absolutely miserable at work and not taking into enough account my pregnancy. I was commuting around 01h30 each way, suffering from severe morning sickness (which curiously enough lasted until around this long weekend too) and hating what I was doing. I would never reach home before 20h30. He was going nuts with me and quite concerned about me and the baby.

He was more than right! This was the weekend where I’ve started meditation. We’ve both started together but he gave up on the same day saying he couldn’t do it, because he’s mind was always travelling a million places. I’ve been doing it daily ever since.

Maybe it was also the combination of the place where we were, as we were given our little house for the stay (you can read it all about it here), or the fact that I felt happy that we had our time together, but I felt inner change. We went for a few walks around the Brecon Beacons National Park. It’s a beautiful area that we still need to explore properly.

I didn’t took as many photos as usual, because I just wanted to enjoy it!

And a delicious chocolate I had bought on the national park. I’m not joking but this was sooooo good! (and the logo is so cute!) – You can check their page here.

We had lunch in a lovely pub, loved the decor!

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And went for another walk in the afternoon

We had to go to town to buy some shorts for him, as he managed to land on mud while trying to take some long exposures. Fortunately he was alright and he didn’t broke the camera (or my lenses!), but he was covered in mud. So we’ve cut our walk to do some shopping before returning back to the hotel for a walk around the area, meditation and a relaxing dinner.

Sometimes all we need is really to disconnect from the world and appreciate the little pleasures like walking together in the park!

.: Last night in Japan :.

And to end the series…

Our last night in Japan was actually back in Tokyo, because we had book round trip from London – Tokyo. Now here’s a funny story on our last day… after leaving the shinkansen (bullet train) all we had to do pretty much was to cross the street and we would reach our hotel. But he decided to run with the luggage and we’ve ended up breaking a wheel. Let’s just say it was quite a warm day, so having a piece of metal frictioning on the floor… let’s just say I was fearing our luggage would go on fire!

Once we’ve finally approached the hotel, the guys were absolutely amazing with us, and they’ve helped us with our broken (and heavy!) luggage. How to make an entrance in style!

Although we’ve stayed all our journey in AirBnB so we could explore life as locals and be closer to the centre, on our last night I wanted the convenience of being both close to the shinkansen (for our return from Kyoto), but also on a central line to go straight to the airport the next morning. The perfect choice was the Prince Sakura Tokyo from Marriott.

Photos below from the official website

There was also a private garden inside the hotel, which we’ve ended up not exploring

We were really exhausted by the time we’ve reached our room, but we had now an important mission…. find a bag so we could swap before flying back home next morning.

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View from the lift

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We went outside to try to find our bag, which eventually we did in a small market place. But I’ve started to get worst from my morning sickness (I had the story with that too, but I won’t dig in details because it was too embarrassing! Let’s just say I was really glad he knew a few words in Japanese such as pregnant and help)

Back in the hotel room I had a basked of fruits waiting for me. It came in brilliant timing! Fruits has been my survival food ever since I’ve became pregnant (while I’m writing this post at more than 38 weeks I can tell you it still is as I still have the “morning sickness”)

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Rather than exploring more of Tokyo, we’ve decided to stay in the room and rest before our dinner with our friend. Obviously the meeting point was the  Hachiko Statue again

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We’ve explored really nice neighbourhoods (I didn’t had the camera with me 😦 )

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His photo

We also went up to a tower to enjoy an amazing free view over Shibuya

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His Photo

Then we’ve ended up the evening in this amazing sake place. It felt like going inside a rabbit hole, with a tiny door

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And the guys had lots of sake. I could just smell it and all I can say is the smell was divine!

Next morning it was time to go back home. Oh what a journey!!!

Have you been in Japan? Any thoughts you would like to share?

.: 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?

.: Day 1 in Bordeaux :.

It feels it was ages ago now, but I didn’t had the energy to edit the photos from that weekend (oh life lately!). Bordeaux was our sister weekend away and now I wonder why didn’t we do it ages ago? It was brilliant to have some time together.

After checkin in the house and as I had some time left while my sister didn’t arrive from her flight, I went on a mission to get a nice lunch. I bumped into Le Petit Commerce, a favourite by the locals by it’s fresh fish. Considering I’ve arrived quite late, around 14h, it was still quite crowded. I had to wait a little bit for a sit, but it was so worth it.

I’ve decided for the day’s offer, fish soup. Ohh it was so marvellous! Even the bread was absolutely tasty. I had no idea I was craving for fish this badly.

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Then, in the table next to me, they’ve ordered cafe gourmand, which is pretty much coffee served with petits fours. Delicious!

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I left the restaurant feeling loads better than I was after my nap in the house. Ready to explore the city.

I loved the colours immediately, it felt like Paris meets Bath.

My sister eventually arrived and we’ve continued exploring the city

I wish I could buy all of these!

Don’t you just love the colours? Then we went to explore the famous canneles. Well I have to say this was a disappointment. They were not as good as I would expect them to be. It felt like biting a piece of rubber to be fair.

We went for a quick shower at the house before heading over for dinner. For dinner we’ve decided L’Entrecote. I knew about l’entrecote from the branch in London, so I knew I was going to love it. My sister was in love with the sauce as well. Being L’Entrecote, it means waiting a while. I think we’ve waited around 45m and we were one of the first in the queue.

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So good! I managed to finish it all, which was an improvement considering my previous month. Really worth a visit 🙂

Next stop: St-Emilion!

Btw, Feliz dia do Pai (Father’s day in Portugal)

.: Last morning in NYC :.

One of the things we hadn’t done yet was to have a proper American breakfast. As we had been enjoying the delicious fresh breakfast in the hotel, we hadn’t really been out. So our last morning had to be the one. Even better because we had one of the most famous places right in front of the Marquis: Junior’s. There is always a queue, so you’ll probably wait 30m but it’s worth it.

I’ve ordered pancakes with Canadian bacon. So good and filling! It looks much smaller than it is! I just couldn’t finish it

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So good!!!!

After that we went for a walk before getting out taxi back to the airport.

Couldn’t resist this one…. windows playing it’s magic

We’ve ended up going to Beer Authority (they also have a beer garden) Really good choice actually. It looks like a pub, it has a really good selection of beers, staff is really friendly (yes I know, this has been quite a theme). Perfect place to chill out with some friends.

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I just had a stout and I think he had at least 3 different pints. I’ve also ordered a pizza just to help me out with the beer, but I have to admit I was still so full from breakfast I couldn’t finish it.

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And then it was time to get back to London. Our flight ended up being delayed almost 2h due to problems with the traffic control plus extra 30m flying in circles in Heathrow. It felt good to be back home.

In the end I would say NY surprised me quite a lot. It was not my dream trip at all, just wanted to visit it and I’ve really enjoyed it! It has a lot to offer and to explore in Manhattan alone. Wouldn’t mind being back in a few years time 🙂

Have you been in NY? What’s your thoughts?

.: New York Day 6 :.

This was going to be our last full day in NY and also the day I had decided to swap hotels and move to the centre of the Times Square to the famous Marquis Hotel.

It was actually sad to check out from the Essex House, as we really felt so comfortable and almost at home. The staff was so friendly and just in front of the central park, what else could a girl want? But I was keen on experiencing the buzz on our last night.

So after breakfast and before check out, we went for our last walk in the central Park. There’s not such a thing as too much central park, especially on such a sunny morning like this

Did you know there is a castle in the middle of central Park? Yap, there is, and it has a really nice view

Then time to check out and check in at the Marquis Hotel. If you want to experience all the buzz from the times square, this is the place to be. On the first floors it’s actually a theatre.

Challenge nr 1 was to find the reception. One would assume reception would be on GF or maybe 1st floor right? Not here, this one is on the 4th floor. It’s just so huge! Because it’s so busy, you won’t get the same cosy and personalised vibe as you would get elsewhere. But that’s part of the experience too.

Our room, even if big was a big disappointing. I guess we’ve got spoiled at our previous hotel. The view was also to a backstreet.

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This is the famous lift area. You press your floor and it will tell you what is the next available lift. It’s quite impressive to use these as you go all the way up to the top.

 

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We went for a lunch and for a walk around then it was time for a shower before heading up to the top bar. So the Marquis is also quite famous for it’s 360 view rotating view. That’s right, the top floor with the bar and restaurant rotate around so in 1h you’ll be able to enjoy a 360 view, which is called The View.

We’ve ordered a few beers while enjoying the view.

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But with all the mirrors it’s almost impossible to take any decent photos

Then we’ve headed down to photograph the Times Square

Then we’ve headed back to the hotel for some rest and I also wanted to call my sister who was in Amsterdam celebrating her birthday. Once I’ve turned the computer my dad told me about the sad news from France, well I guess you know the rest. But maybe because I was away from home, most specially in NY it hit me quite badly. I kept on following the news on telly trying to understand what was going on. It could have been us. But I guess this an important reason why we need to enjoy every moment we have, all of them, including the little things, because sometimes everything can get turned upside down.