.: What I’ve learnt with business travel :.

Ah, hard to believe it’s already August! It’s quite funny because being south portuguese it means I don’t like August. It’s the month of chaos, where anything takes 3 times longer and becomes more expensive as well. It’s the month where all expats come back to Portugal and they all decide to meet in South Portugal.

When this….

Becomes this

Once I’ve started working, I was the one always volunteering to stay in August and then wait for my September holidays. Although this year, I’m having holidays in August as well, but staying in London, so it’s ok 🙂

Speaking about work, that leads to how business travel changed the way I travel.

.: Before Business Travel :.

Before business travel, getting on a plane always meant holidays and excitement! I would prepare a big list of all the places I wanted to visit, spread out through the duration of my stay. The list would normally be long, I would print lots of information and try to tick most of what I could.

Packing would take longer and include stuff which I wouldn’t probably even use at all! But I was a FOMO (fear of missing out). I didn’t wanted to miss visiting that amazing place that everyone was talking about.

We would typically walk loads trying to see all the places I had decided I wanted to visit and the hotel would just be the place where I would leave my bags and have a few hours sleep, so I didn’t really paid attention to the hotel quality except that it had to be really well located and I can tell you I would do loads of investigation to get the best price / location I could manage.

.: While business travelling :.

At first it was all very exciting, going to fancy hotels, fancy restaurants with the colleagues, finding how to get into the office in a foreign location, but after 6 months in a row all I was craving was a night sleep in my bed!

I would start to pack at 23hish trying to avoid the thought that next Monday morning I would wake up at 04a.m again to go to the airport. Therefore I’ve become quite an efficient packer. The other thing I would do was to leave all my toiletries in the hotel, to reduce the weight and the reliance on small travel packages.

I would still order my cab for much earlier than I needed, simply because I’m crazy about punctuality and also I’ve become quite stressed with all the airport check-in process. I would always try to be in London Heathrow before 06a.m, so the queues would be a lot smaller and I could get myself in the lounge enjoying my breakfast and reading the newspaper. That attitude paid out a few times when I’ve got stuck in the M25 at 05h30 int he morning because it’s the M25! (For those who are not from London, this is the highway to hell, there’s always traffic, always!). I never lost a flight. Never! (Touch wood) Sometimes I would have time to do some shopping before going to the gate. And I would go to the gate quite early as well, because I wanted to make sure I would have space for my hand-luggage. When landing, I had to be as most efficient as I could in order not to miss the train to the office. So being in the front seats with space for my luggage was key. The last thing you wanted was to be seated in row nr 5 and have your bag in nr 30! I feel after all these years my bag is my confident, we went through a lot together hahahaha

Tip: If you are a business flyer, ensure you’re bag is not black like everyone else’s! My handbags have stupid colours so I can recognize it in less than 1 second!

I stop experimenting new hotels and try to stay in the same one, to have the feeling of getting back a familiar place. I took that so seriously I’ve become friends with all the hotel staff, from reception to the restaurant. It’s so nice to leave the office and arrive to the hotel and have a welcoming smile and be able to chit chat before going to the get changed in the room.

One thing I never gave up was to try different restaurants. I would avoid eating every night at the hotel and try to leave one or 2 nights to explore a new place. Obviously when I was to tired or still had to work after dinner, would come down the stairs and have my meal in the hotel restaurant. I find room service depressing. That would be last case scenario.

I’ve learnt how to have a meal alone at the restaurant and not feel awkward. Yes, table just for one. Would take my kindle with me and read while waiting for the meal.

Overall it was an amazing experience of meeting new people and making friends all over the world. In many ways I do miss it! (and I’m not even talking about the status at the hotels or the airlines)

.: Leisure travel now :.

Finally, after more than 5 years in a row I’ve stopped travelling weekly for work, which means I’ll gradually start to relax a bit more now, but there are a few things that definitely changed because of all those years of weekly travel

What changed

  • Hotels – I care loads about the hotel now, because it’s part of the journey as well. If I feel like staying in the hotel I want good amenities around, such as a pool or green space to have a walk around. And the bed comfort is key!
  • Stress at the airport – I still go nuts when going through security someone remembers they have a shampoo at the end of their bag. When I’m about to reach my turn I have everything on my hand ready to be dropped at the tray. Even while on holidays I stress with it! I will try to go through security as quickly as I can and then find a restaurant to sit down and have some food.
  • Packing – Still done last minute and still very efficient. I try to travel as light as I can and have space in the bag for shopping!!!
  • Planning – Except for deciding where to go and why I want to go there, I don’t plan. I like to follow the mood of the day. Obviously will visit the key attractions, but I let myself go with the flow. On the night I plan what we both feel like doing the next day and that might be subject to change if we find a place we really like and want to spend more time there or just doing nothing overall. I feel my holidays now are now way more relaxing.

What remained the same

  • Food! I still try to experiment different places and food still is one of the main reasons why I travel. I also try to find local places rather than just rely on the touristy ones
  • I still read a lot about travel, mostly blogs, but that’s to try to find the local places and the viewpoints of local people, rather than to add lots of places I want to visit to tick the box
  • Punctuality – Thanks Dad! But this is something that will never change. I hate being late. I always want to have contingency and avoid any unnecessary stress. Although I suspect that is just about to change with baby coming so soon!!! (I will let you know in a few months how my punctuality stands)
  • Photography – Is still an important part of my travels and we do it together. The only thing that changed is that I’ve replaced my heavy canon by a really light Sony and I just take 1 lens pretty much.
  • I still value exploring next to home, maybe even more since I’ve started to spend so long away from home.

Have you changed your travel personality as you’ve started to travel more? Any experiences you would like to share?

.: A thought on holidays :.

Now that everyone is going on holidays – with some of those travelling to my hometown in Algarve – and me in countdown for mine (and for all the sleep I’m expecting to have!!!), I just realised that I never had away holidays all my childhood. Yap, for real!

Why would we go on holidays if we were living where everyone else was coming for holidays? We would start going to the beach in April and carry on until October. Every weekend we would have a walk along the beach with my parents and we would also come sometimes after school. While we never went away for the holidays, we had quite a tradition at home, whereby each Sunday we would go out, somewhere. Either to explore the west cost (Costa Vincentina – this is surely one of the most beautiful coasts I know!), or we would go to the mountains and jump between the rocks in the small rivers. We also went to Spain a few times, so we were never bored at home!

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When it was crazy busy over summer in our hometown we would head to Lisbon and spend our August there with my great-grandfather and my uncle.

The first time ever we went away together I was already 25, and that’s when I’ve organised a long weekend away to celebrate my parents 25th Anniversary. Ever since we always try to do a long weekend away together per year.

Because we were always doing something on the weekends, I never realised that unlike our friends, we were not doing holidays away from home.

It’s all about the quality time we had together throughout every day of the year.

Maybe this is why I value so much exploring close to home as going away. There’s so much beauty around us that sometimes we don’t set ourselves to go and explore. I think this was such a valuable lesson from my parents that is something I’ll want to carry on for as long as I can.

Do you have any special memories of your holidays away with your family?

.: Exploring Tokyo :.

Ah Japan, just the thought of it makes me teleport again in there 🙂 Before I start showing the pictures from Tokyo a few useful things to know.

* Tokyo has 2 main airports, Haneda and Narita. Haneda is definitely the closest one and it’s really easy to reach the city centre. If you have a Japan Rail pass (which I recommend you that you d0), you can use the monorail and the trains without any extra cost.

We’ve ended up using both, as British airways landed in Haneda but our flight took off from Narita. Narita takes more than 1h to get there by train and it’s a lot more expensive too. Plus I found the airport really boring, almost no shops and restaurants available. If you have a choice, go via Haneda.

Japan has a lot of private managed underground networks, but there’s also trains all around the city. Most of the time we’ve manage to use only the JR line which is included in the JR pass. The JR pass is the best way to travel around Japan. If you are only staying in one city it’s probably not worth it, but as soon as you want to visit a different city and use the shinkansen (bullet train) it will be worth it. The best is to pick your JR pass at the airport, but expect quite a big queue! Pretty much all tourists landing in Japan will be on the queue to get their pass as well. The price of the pass will depend on the number of the days you need it for.

Access to 3G / Wi-fi
What we normally do when we travel to a different place is to get a local sim card and use it for the 3G services. It’s a lot cheaper than rely on roaming. You can do this in most parts of the world, except in Japan. Only if you live in Japan you will be able to get a pay as you go card. You can check online as there are companies that allow you to buy one online if you are a foreigner, which is what we did. We choose to pick up our card in the post office of the Haneda airport. What we hadn’t considered is that there are several terminals in Haneda. We’ve landed at terminal 1 for international arrivals and the post office was terminal 2 (I think). Anyway it was well worth it. Can’t survive without google maps.

In most places you can get free wifi, but if you are on the move you might want to have 3G on your phone. It was really handy when in our flat in Kyoto we’ve ended up without any wifi!

I don’t need to cover food or safety. Food is internationally known and safety… well Japan is one of the safest places in the world!

Right, Tokyo. As soon as we’ve reached Tokyo we’ve headed for Shibuya where we had our AirBnB reservation.

Tip: AirBnB is not necessarily legal in Japan. It’s one of those grey areas where it’s not a crime, but it’s not necessarily legal either, so you need to be mindful when getting into your flat. Ensure you’re silent all the time and avoid unnecessary attention. You already look like a Gaijin (foreigner). I do however recommend AirBnB quite a lot, as it’s a lot cheaper than the hotels in Japan and you will be able to afford a better location

After we left our bags in the flat we’ve headed for a walk and food. Shibuya is one of the most famous areas within Tokyo, as you have the famous Shibuya crossing as well as lots of really nice restaurants

One of the most famous temples is also in this area: Meiji Jingu. It’s really easy to forget you are within Tokyo once you reach the garden area. So peaceful and beautiful, even with the number of tourists in the area as well

We were so tired that we’ve decided to head back to the flat and have a proper nap.

Next day we’ve started our day by heading to the famous Tokyo Fish Market. You can only visit the Fish Market in the original location until Nov 2016, after which the market will move to a different location. So timing wise we were really lucky to go this year. You can visit the auction that happens quite early in the morning, but only 60 people are allowed at a time (in total only 120 people can go in per day). For all other regular visits you can only go after 09a.m, which is what we did.

Before we’ve headed to the market, we went to the Startbucks at Shibuya which offers quite a nice view of the crossing

I took this photo with my phone rather than the camera

After the market and a quick lunch we’ve headed to the imperial gardens

That evening we’ve ended out going out with a friend of a friend that happens to work in Shibuya! This was quite a nice story actually, a friend of ours noticed that we were posting pictures of Japan, so he introduced us one of his good friends that was living in Japan. We’ve agreed to go out for dinner that evening. Meeting point? The Hachiko Statue which you might recognise from the movie (Hachi)

I’ve cried loads watching this movie!

For dinner we went to a Yakitori place, called  Jomon.

Yakitori is a Japanese type of skewered chicken. The preparation of Yakitori involves skewering the meat with kushi, a type of skewer typically made of steel, bamboo, or similar materials. Afterwards, they are grilled over a charcoal fire.


Really delicious food!

Next day time it was time to travel to Kyoto.

.: 2015 review (Yes another of those posts!) :.

I know and I apologise, it’s another my year review post. There are millions of them out there, mine is just another one. Yet, I couldn’t resist it. Sometimes it helps to look into the past to put things into perspective and in a way to celebrate all the little achievements.

All the posts I have been reading so far, make my life feel completely uninteresting and that I haven’t really done anything. Everyone went into amazing places and went to fancy restaurants. But, I can’t help feeling that I did the things I wanted to do and were relevant to me. If I could earn money without spending my days in the office (and carrying luggage every single week), probably I would. But then again probably I wouldn’t value every single moment as much as I do, because I don’t have that many of those.

What I’ve also realised was, while talking with friends and colleagues, it seems I’m quite determined to explore UK, whereas some of them, born in this green island haven’t seen half of it, which makes me thing that I’m not doing that bad.

This year my other half also started to do photography which meant we had a few weekends just exploring around and taking photos together. I would definitely say this was one of the milestones this year 🙂

For 2015 I had very few goals: work less, enjoy more and try to sleep in my bed most of the time. That was a fail I’m afraid. But still I have a sense of accomplishment, I’ve realised I can’t keep on waiting for the things I want, I need to cherish the moment and dare to do more and do different (e.g. went to a comic con dressed as a virgin guard from the Dictator). As for the sleep in my bed, there’s finally hope after 5 years away, at least in January will stay in London which I find hard to believe.

I’m still practising the being nice moto which I’ve started at the end of 2014, in fact I’m expanding it and ensuring I treat people with a smile (everyone by default) and I notice them. I left the hotel I’ve stayed for more than 1 and half years with a postcard signed by the staff that just made my day. I respect everyone, even more those that actually do a lot of hard-work, our society needs people willing to work rather than sit and wait for some magical benefits. I like to think everyone has a chance, one day you might be working at a small little store, the next day you might become the CEO of a successful startup. If you treat people nicely, good things will come to you as well. I’m keen to carry on doing exactly that. It’s so easy in the end!

Books read this year: 3 or 4 so massive failure

Places I’ve been in 2015

  • January: No travel, but most weekends I had something with friends, so it was quite good from a social point of view! Highlight of the month: Our first time attending a Cabaret (Thanks Zomato)
  • February: Drive for a weekend away in Lille. Even though it was raining most of the weekend, I just loved it!
  • March: Lisbon was his choice this month as it’s his birthday. He always wants to go back to Lisbon to see our friends back there. I have to say this was one of the best stays I’ve had in Lisbon and it was quite magical to watch the sunset in my sister’s zen place. Absolutely inspiring.
  • April: Easter break in Copenhagen – quite a relaxing weekend for the two of us. It was good to be away and break the routine and watch the sunset and take some nocturnal photos together, even if it too cold for that.
  • May: May was quite a month! We moved houses in just a weekend and we had an opening lunch the Monday just right after. Following weekend we went away to Cornwall just to enjoy and relax.
  • June: Had my parents over to visit my new place and took them to Sky Garden. I was pretty stressed out that day as I received a call from work and would have to cancel all my weekend. In the end I escaped and managed to enjoy the fact that they were around. Also had a lovely tea at the Maids of Honour (ahh so happy to live so close to Kew!)
  • July: We went to the Zomato party. We were feeling really shy because we didn’t knew anyone but in the end it was really good fun and something we wouldn’t normally do. Also we went to visit a Lavender field which was on my wishlist for ages.
  • August: The highlight of the month was finding a beach with fluffy sand here in UK. We felt like children running around. Had no idea how I missed fluffy sand on my feet (the perks of being a south portuguese). We also had a weekend away in Lake District, which I love and look forward to come back to.
  • September: Back to Portugal for the “summer low cost” holidays. I had the chance to take him to Porto and visit a good friend of hours. Was amazing to go back to the Port tasting. So good!
  • October: was excellent for street photography and it was the start of my Wed. Night out Club at work in Bristol. My liver wasn’t very happy even if I was!
  • November: It’s my month so I have the chance of selecting the place I want to visit this year. This year decided it was time to visit the big apple, because everyone else I know has been there and I was curious to be able to compare it against London. It was better than I expected! People were really nice and actually felt quite peaceful, especially walking around the Central Park (sorry Hyde Park, but this is far better)
  • December: We went for a weekend away in Snowdania – North Wales (his choice), although it was spot on the storm weekend, so we didn’t enjoy anything outdoors, but we’ve agreed to be back.

Looking forward to 2016, not because I expect it will be far better than this year, but because it’s my chance to do different and continuing doing all the things I’ve enjoyed this year 🙂

What was your best moment of 2015? Any special learning you would like to share?

.: A home away from home – Snowdania :.

We just had a really relaxing weekend in north Wales (Snowdania), which sounds funny to think of it considering it was also the storm weekend “Desmond” (more on BBC news). Even on Friday, at the beginning of the storm I could barely open the car to get out. It was mostly really windy and rainy. Non stop rain for the whole of Saturday, even this morning it was still raining. Yes I know it’s north Wales and it’s expected to rain, but not like this and not with such strong winds.

“If a place is beautiful on the rain, you know it’s just beautiful” So we’ve agreed that we’ll be back.

Why did we decided to go to North Wales?
Well, this time it was his idea. 99% of the time it’s really me deciding where to go and book everything, this time he had the idea and I did the rest. He wanted to go there because of the Evo Triangle. He loves driving, and Evo Triangle it’s classified as one of the best roads in the UK to drive. It’s pretty bumpy and curvy and he had indeed lots of fun driving it

For me, the main reason was the beauty of the countryside.

Where to stay?
Imagine waking up surrounded by a peaceful scenery, in a cosy farm house. That’s what I wanted as well. After my usual research I found this place “Plas Gwyn

Plas Gwyn bed & breakfast, Dolgellau, Snowdonia National Park from Plas Gwyn Bed & Breakfast on Vimeo.

Oh boy, I couldn’t be any happier. We had such an amazing stay! It was really easy to find this place, in the centre of Dolgellau. As soon as we arrived, after our trip to Evo Triangle, we were welcomed by a smiley Julie. She took us to our gorgeous room Miss Margarets & Miss Gladys room. She also explained us the area and recommend a few places for food and drink afterwards. And something really surprising to me: “at what time do you want to have breakfast?” Yes! That’s right, you have a choice! Which is something I had never seen before. We’ve decided 07h45 so we would have time to make most of the sunlight in the morning (well we were hoping for some, barely did we know that we would have none).

The house maintained all the classical features with modern touches. Every single detail aims to make you feel comfortable.



The bed was really comfortable and cosy as a bed needs to be


Modern features are always welcome!


Such an adorable working space


Oh I wish I had a fireplace place like this in my bedroom! I never had one in the house, but would love to.

One of my favourite areas in the room was the window and the lovely place around it:


Could wake up to have a view like this every day




Look at this china, so beautiful!!!! I couldn’t resist to have a tea and just sit in this space watching the window before going out again. Notice the little package next to the tea? That’s handmade by Jan . It looks and taste like a small fluffy scone, and it was so delicious! Loved the detail of having a plastic bag with the hotel logo on it.


Books below the window, isn’t this perfect? Could imagine myself sitting next to the window just reading a book for hours.

The bathroom was really lovely as well, I fell in love with the shower. If I ever have my house again I want a shower like this, in stone. Love it!






This is the perfect country house, it really is! Breakfast next morning was really delicious as well. They’ve offered us a few options from just toast and eggs, to a cooked breakfast with fresh ingredients.

And ahhhh, the wifi was really good. Better than most hotels I normally stay which considering we were in the countryside was a surprise.

He spent the whole weekend saying: “I feel so relaxed” and I felt exactly the same. It was rainy, stormy, as miserable as weather can be, but yet we’ve managed to make most of it. Thank you to Julie & Jan for making this weekend home away from home 🙂

.: New York – Day 3 (Rain edition) :.

Yap, unlike the first 2 gorgeous sunny days, Tuesday woke up to me a cold rainy morning. Quite miserable to tell you the truth. To be honest I was feeling quite tired from the long walking the previous 2 days, so it was a perfect day to take it easy.

I’m normally not very keen on museums (yes feel free to jump on me), but I don’t. I get bored. Normally I love to visit museums more for the architecture itself than for the museum. I like to read and find things online, so the prospect of spending hours reading labels or doing an audio guide isn’t for me. I prefer to walk until my legs can’t move and get the sense of the city and its vibe. And well, living in London we have free access to some of the best museums in the world anyway.

Anyway, my sister had recommended for us to visit the interprid, as both of us like military history (my favourite museum in London is the Imperial war museum or the British museum for a classic type museum). I guess it comes from my dad, as we grew up surrounded by planes in the house (kit ones or even the little ones with an engine).

It’s a shame it was raining so badly, so I didn’t explore the upper deck properly

We’ve also took the tickets to visit the space shuttle, which is totally worth it!

And the Concorde, one day it will be a lot faster to fly (and safely)

After the museum we’ve headed back to the hotel for a bit of rest, and also at this point he was having a massive back-pain. Not that my legs where feeling any better.

For the afternoon we went to the Financial District. If I would ever move to NYC, this is probably where I would end up working

This is the same area where the Two Towers used to be before 9/11. Little did we know what was going to happen a few days later. The more the reason not to take life for granted and make the most of it with those you love. This is one of the reasons why we don’t leave the house upset with each other and we always kiss each other goodbye.

It was such a cold and miserable day that we’ve called it a day. This time we didn’t went out for any rooftop and decided to chill out in the hotel instead.

.: New York Day 2 :.

After the amazing day visiting central Park and midtown, we were ready to stretch our legs and visit Brooklyn. This also meant our first underground ride. Gosh, it felt such a travel back in time! I didn’t took any photos inside, which I have to admit it was a bit shameful, but I didn’t feel secure enough to do so.

It feels like I was travelling in a museum artefact! Well it works. Really loved the concept of the express trains, which skip a few stations and end up being the fastest way down-town.

The easiest way to travel actually, it’s way faster and cheaper than a taxi ride. You can buy the metro card and top it up in any station. A single ticket costs you $3, but with the card it’s $2.75.

Love the architecture! These buildings are simply gorgeous in my point of view

Now here’s something silly, I didn’t check the settings on my camera and apparently I was photographing with ISO 1600, this is why the exposure looked so funny.

Tip: Always check your camera settings and ensure you’re reset them before you turn off the camera. Always!

So many of my Brookly Bridge photos are rubbish and were deleted. Plus the light in the sky was too high, which meant a lot of glare. But still managed to save a few I like

Here’s another place I had on my wishlist but where my photos didn’t turn out the way I was expecting and picturing in my head.



Tip: The best view from Brooklyn Park is at sunset / night, so ensure you save the bridge for the late afternoon

After a stop at Starbucks (yap, we’ve spend loads on Starbucks, as we went at least twice a day) in Dumbo we’ve decided to go back into the city via Manhattan bridge

The views from Manhattan bridge are really awesome as they include Brooklyn Bridge in the scene

You can also enjoy the views into Chinatown, which I recommend!

After Chinatown, which I found a lot more interesting than it’s London version, it was time for Little Italy. This is where I’ve spotted quite a famous painting by Tristan Eaton (from Brooklyn). You can visit his website here.

After our long walk in the morning, we were more than ready for an american lunch (big portions!). He decided to visit Katz, a famous dinner in the east side. And oh wow, quite an experience!

Katz's Delicatessen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

As you get in you notice this buzz of people around. It’s quite big! You will get a ticket upon arrival which you’ll be using at every counter as you order your food. We went for the famous pastrami sandwich. Next time we’ll order 1 for the 2 of us. One was huge! I could barely do half of it

The pastrami was really delicious! I ended up not having any dinner, just a tea, cheese and crackers at the lounge as I was still full!

One of the famous spots that needs a visit is the Grand Central Station

Again it was really hard to get a decent picture and actually I’ve ended up damaging my card trying to get one. Fortunately we’ve later managed to save the photos from the card (just lost a few ones)

But the building is indeed quite beautiful and totally worth a visit. We’ve decided to carry our walk back into the hotel, even though I could barely feel my legs after this point.

It was our first walk through the famous 5th avenue.

Once I’ve reached the hotel (17km later) I could barely move my legs. This is what happens when you do pretty much nothing during the year, your legs can’t cope with all the walking.

After a big of rest and some nibbles at the lounge we went to visit another rooftop, which was recommended by the staff in the hotel (we’ve asked for a nice rooftop nearby).

The Roof @ Viceroy Hotel

I didn’t really took pictures of the rooftop so using the website ones

The Roof Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Which rooftop is your favourite?

.: New York Day 1 :.

After a good night sleep we were more than ready to go outside and enjoy the views from the central park, so this is precisely what we’ve decided to do. What a surprise! I have to say that although I didn’t had big expectations, the park surprised me a lot by it’s beauty. Even though you can see the huge towards from most of the park, it’s very easy to forget we are in a big city as the colours are so gorgeous and each area of the park so diverse!

What I was expecting

So something similar to Hyde Park in London but with taller buildings around. The reality was way better! This is where it feels it was a great idea to go over Autumn

You can see our hotel from the park (House of Essex)

And the magnificent autumnal colours

After our walk we went to swipe our rooms and then we went back to the city to try to find a data card and for some lunch.

Tip: If you’re going abroad check the number of days you’ll be out and how much your operator will be charging you in roaming. In most European countries for example Vodafone offers the passport, which costs £3 a day to use the same services as in UK. But, if we are let’s say 1 week away, that would be more than a pay as you go card. So do the maths and check what works for you. In some places you’ll find free WiFi, like most Starbucks, but if you feel the need to use google maps while you’re trying to find a place maybe you’ll reach the conclusion you need data!

We had some amazing Tacos in a local Mexican grocery store @ Hells Kitchen. I forgot to take pictures. But this is the place Tehuizingo

Tehuitzingo Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Photo from Zomato

You know a place is good when someone that is leaving ensures you know how good it is. So tasty!

And the first rooftop of the week, spyglass. We were feeling tired by then and most of the rooftops only open after 17h, so once we  found one that was nearby and already open we had to give it a go: Spyglass

I ended up going for a cocktail with gin, ginger and lemon (yap, I’ve spend the whole week with a cool, so was feeling sore throat and tired) ($18 per cocktail, which seemed to be pretty much the standard everywhere we went)

Official photo from spyglass

The view wasn’t perfect as the place is pretty cosy, but it was awesome to enjoy the golden tones over the city

After the cocktails we went for a warm shower and rest at the hotel as I couldn’t stop coughing.

For dinner we went to KatsuHama for warm cosy ramen!

Really friendly and relaxing place and the ramen was pretty good, exactly all I needed (although I have to say the sauce was a bit to thick for me)

Katsu-hama 55st Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Could get used to this life!

.: JW Marriott House of Essex :.

I’ve just arrived back home after a long flight: 7h flight + 2h delay + 30m waiting in Heathrow + 30m waiting for the bags and add up all the travel to and from the airport. Oh well you get the picture

But if we travel back in time, 1 week ago I was travelling to New York.

A stressful start in London

Right… so what if I say we’ve started our trip with lots of stress. Upon arrival at Heathrow, when we were checking our bags we had the lovely surprise saying his ESTA (European visa application for USA) wasn’t approved because it missed the “M” as part of the passport number. I felt my legs shaking, I just couldn’t believe that having done all the application process and entered all the details back in April, only now, a few hours away from the flights we could be grounded. Then, try to go through a long form using your mobile phone and your hands shaking because you feel like you’re running against time. In the end it was approved and we’ve managed to check in. But still I was nervous all the way until we’ve passed security in US. I wish we were told months before that there was an M missing… Oh well

Quite easy to do long flights these days with all the good selection of movies around. I’ve ended up doing 2 in a row and then decided to have a nap.

Travel from the airport

Upon arrival, all we had to do was to follow the instructions to find our shuttle. I find the shuttles the most price efficient way to travel to / from airports. I’ve discovered this process while on a business trip to Budapest. It’s pretty much like a shared taxi, meaning you get an affordable price because the taxi will be shared with other passengers, but you’ll be travelling door to door without the fuss of carrying your bags in the underground. From JFK we’ve used super shuttle (I have to admit I didn’t do much research this time because we’ve decided last minute this was the way we were going to travel).

I have to say we were not very lucky this time. Although it was super easy to follow the instructions and to find our driver, let’s just say that rather than take the most efficient route he decided to deliver the passengers on a first in first out basis, which meant we’ve seen our hotel in south central park but we’ve ended up going all the way to north Harlem and travelling in circles until we were back into south central park. This was quite unusual! So we were feeling quite sleepy by the time we’ve reached the hotel (23h30 local time | 04h30 in UK).

The Hotel
I did a lot of research before selecting the hotel I wanted to stay and have to say one of the first decisions I did was that it had to be next to the central park (yes I know, I was dreaming with a view to the central park!) and that’s how I found the House of Essex. It was exactly all I wanted and was hoping for! Before I jump ahead, upon arrival our room was ready and they’ve apologised for the fact that we hadn’t been upgraded as the hotel was fully booked. I was so sleepy to be honest all I wanted was to jump on bed… and I know very well by know how comfy and brilliant the Marriott beds are.

I did noticed though how glamorous and charming the lobby was. I didn’t took pictures, so will have to use the official ones.

When I’ve noticed the lifts I felt teleported to the Gatsby movie

I was actually contacted by the hotel a few days before my arrival, which was really helpful. They’ve send me a few instructions and also send me the dining menu as I was arriving late. But again, I was so tired I wasn’t feeling hungry at all. Was just craving for a hot tea, but guess what,unlike UK tea is not a commodity in the rooms.

The Executive Lounge

Early in the morning (was we were still pretty much UK time), we woke up at 06h30, so we’ve ended up enjoying a long shower and going for breakfast in the lounge and this is where the surprises really started. Such a lovely welcome!!! Seriously, the staff was so friendly I couldn’t stop smiling, felt a lot cheerful! Thanks guys!

Not the best lounge I’ve been, but it had a lovely decoration and lots of red fruits available for breakfast. 😀

Our room

Before I went for our first walk in Central Park, I’ve stopped by reception to see if we could get an upgrade this time, and they’ve arranged it all for us. We would have our room available in the afternoon. I’m so pleased we’ve managed to get an upgrade and a view to the central park!

This was our room for pretty much one week

Loved instantly the modern decoration and the plugs available in the chandeliers! So handy!

I had a lot of rest in this couch after all day walking!

Bathroom wise, pretty much the standard with aromatherapy products which I love

And a better picture from the bathroom

It was amazing to wake up every morning with the sound of the birds and the view to the central park. I really felt comfortable all the week! All the staff makes you feel welcome and happy really and the hotel itself is so charming and cosy with modern rooms. All I can wish for. Can’t recommend it enough and I have to say I miss it already!!!

Other information

House of Essex is located in South Central Park, so really convenient location for a morning walk in the park. Also, there are 2 major underground stops nearby. On the 8th street for A / C which are the fast route to downtown, or 57th street for the majority of the destinations. We’ve ended up walking pretty much everywhere.

Rooms at the House of Essex start at $296 a night, for more information visit the official website House of Essex.

.: Exploring Porto :.

Oh so hard to return after the holidays! I just had one week in Portugal in Lisbon and Porto. It was also a good opportunity to be with friends and eat loads (more than I’m used to!). But one of the things I was quite keen on doing was to take him to a Port Wine Tour. If we had more space in our luggage we would have the house filled with Port Wine. Seriously!

Although September tends to be a good month to visit Portugal, there was actually a storm (red alert) with strong winds (more than 110km/h) and lots of rain. On the day we arrived it was raining cats and dogs, but fortunately it stopped, but it was quite cloudy the whole day, which ruins our photos. You want to recognize a good photographer? Make him shoot in shitty weather. So clearly you can see which category I fit in.

Our afternoon was on Gaia, where the caves are. We’ve only managed to visit 2 as we had a dinner with a friend. I wish the afternoon was longer to visit loads more.

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I loved both the white “Old Friends” (which we’ve bought) and the tawny. So delicious!!! Next time I’ll bring some cheese and chocolate from home 😀

Next stop: Sandeman 

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The store is gorgeous! Love also the student cape, in terms of trademark it’s one of the best within Port. I didn’t really loved the ones we’ve tried so we didn’t bought any. But there was still another visit left “Quinta do Noval”. We loved the LBV and the “Black” (Tawny). But as the LBV needs to be consumed within 2 days, we’ve decided to take the Tawny, as it’s also easier to drik and share with friends.


Then it was time for dinner and chat with friends. It was an amazing visit and really looking forward to get back, hopefully with good weather!