.: 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?

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.: 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?

.: 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?