Travel: Da Nang, Vietnam (Part 2)

Following on from my blog post last Thursday, this is the next instalment to my trip to Vietnam. It should be noted that travelling at the end of June to Vietnam means that you have to battle with intense heat and humidity; the second day of the tour we were in 40 Celcius Degree heat! I recommend sunscreen, a hat and a lot of water…or just don’t visit in summer; According to the locals, the best weather is in October/November.

Cham Museum

I actually visited the Cham Museum on Day 1 of the tour as it is located in Hải Châu District, Đà Nẵng, central Vietnam, near the Han River. This building was first built under French Rule in 1919, since then it has been expanded and now holds the world’s largest collection of Cham Sculpture. Champa was an Indian civilisation between the period 500 to 1000 AD that built and flourished in Central and South Vietnam. I was unaware that Vietnam had such a rich history, and there are many archaeological sites throughout this region. Their legacy remains through brick temples and intricate sculptures carved from sandstone, mainly of the god Shiva and Asian animals. The museum is worth visiting for those who are interested in the history of the Champa people and worth going to add further colour when visiting sites such as Mỹ Sơn (see below). Though note to all visitors, there is no air conditioning in the building so I would advise bringing a fan in the summer months to cool yourself.

Mỹ Sơn

Mỹ Sơn is located near the village of Duy Phú, in the administrative district of Duy Xuyên in Quảng Nam Province in Central Vietnam, 69 km southwest of Da Nang. It is a cluster of Hindu Temples in Vietnam and was considered the most sacred in the Champa culture. Located in the mountains and surrounded by lush forest, it is one of the most picturesque places I have visited. I recommend starting your visit here early in the morning before larger tour groups start their tours.

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The first excavations were conducted by Henri Parmentier and Charles Carpeaux (1903-04) and each cluster of buildings were artistically labelled Cluster A, B and so on. Evidence suggests that the first buildings were constructed between the 4th and 5th Century, however, currently, the oldest that remains is from the 7th Century, with the newest built in the 13th Century. Unfortunately, a lot of the buildings have been lost during the American War from bombing. Whilst you are there look out for the discarded bombshells and craters on the site.

Despite the destruction, temples, meditation rooms and even the library remain intact for visitors to observe and admire. It is a wonderful place to visit and I recommend it to be on anyone’s Vietnam itinerary.

Hội An

This beautifully preserved Southeast Asian trading port dating from the 15th to 19th Century and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1999. The streets are lined trees and hanging from them a kaleidoscope of lanterns. We visited during the day before the hustle and bustle of the night time markets. The main street was quiet and peaceful. In the heat of the afternoon sun, the residents sheltered in the shade playing card games and ignored us as we walked past. This allowed us time to admire the colourful historical buildings undisturbed.

The town reflects a fusion of indigenous and foreign cultures (principally Chinese and Japanese with later European influences). The Chinese influences were clear as a lot of the streets within the town reminded me of Chinese period dramas which I use to watch with my grandmother, the heavy wooden doors and intricately tiled roofs. One stop on the tour was the Old House of Tan Ky and this brought back memories of my grandmother sister’s home in China in the 90s before the growth of China reached the town. It was surprisingly nostalgic even though I was in Vietnam. The family still resides in the building and is an example of 18th merchant’s home.  Note the beautifully carved chairs as you walk into the building.

A great example of Japanese influences in Hoi An is the infamous Japanese Covered Bridge dating also back to the 18th Century. The bridge features two monkey sculptures at the entrance of the bridge, and as you cross, the other end stands two dog sculptures representing the start and beginning of when the bridge was completed. There is a Taoist temple in the middle the bridge and as you walk on the left, note the markings of the heights of the floods over the decades.

Hội An is ultimately designed for tourists, with many restaurants and shops, I would recommend shopping at the Central market but note you will have to bargain. Rule of thumb is you should deduct two-thirds of the asking price. Though note that you are supporting the local economy and people, don’t be like my mother where she was arguing £2 with the shopkeeper and making him very upset and told us to go away (I went back with the negotiated price + the disputed £2)… Located with the Central market are food stalls and juice stands. On the outer edges, towards the river, there are a lot of fresh fruit stalls and you can see the locals buying their food shopping, on the sides, there are souvenir stalls and baskets.

Whilst we were there, our tour guide was kind enough to ask his wife to wait in line for what he says is the best Banh Mi in Vietnam – Bánh Mì Phượng. I later found out is the one that Anthony Bourdain tried. Honestly, it is AMAZING (we ate it so quickly I didn’t get a chance to take a photo of it). It is not very large, so don’t do what I did and shared it with my sister – it is worth having one for yourself!

I wished that I was able to stay later to experience the night markets even though it has been noted it is a bit of a tourist trap. Hội An is beautiful and worth any diversion for a visit.

That is what I wanted to share with you on my trip to Vietnam, I hope you enjoyed the blog post. Have you been to Vietnam, if I go back what would you recommend? As always, I look forward to your comments!

With Sweet & Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken x

 

 

Travel: Chamonix Mont Blanc

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Happy Mid-Week everyone! I was busy enjoying the French Alps that I had forgotten to post a BRB announcement last Sunday – so sorry about that! I had a wonderful five days breathing in the fresh mountain air and trying snowboarding (again) with my boyfriend which I want to share with you first. We will resume our usual Pineapple Chicken long read this Sunday 🙂

Chamonix Mont Blanc Wedding

Though I have skied in the alps when I was younger this was my first-time visiting Chamonix Mont Blanc. The main village is at a height of 1,035m with cable cars going up to nearly 4,000m. Fun fact: Aiguille du Midi has the highest altitude difference of 2,807m. The town itself is bustling with a main street filled with stores and restaurants. I was genuinely surprised how large it was and with a vibrant après-ski scene of bars and pubs. Personally, I would love to come back because it is a large valley with several other “villages” and mountains to explore, including the possibility of going over to Italy. They even have their own app, which I recommend for all those who like to be up to date with the latest skiing conditions.

The raison d’être to travel all the way to Chamonix was to celebrate one of my university friend’s wedding. They are a fantastically joyful couple full of laughs and I was very honoured to have been invited to celebrate their marriage. It was my first experience of a “winter” wedding was wonderfully intimate and quaint. The ceremony took place outside under the breathtakingly beautiful snow-capped mountains and the remainder of the reception was held in a cosy cabin. I was grateful that my boyfriend and I could make it as it was an extraordinary event!

Where we stayed

I wanted to stay close to “central” Chamonix so that we were close to the shops and close to the couple/rest of the party. As a result, we selected a boutique hotel – Hotel Morgane. Overall, the reviews for the hotel were decent and the fact it had a pool attracted me in the first instance. We booked the deluxe room so that we could also have a little bit more space than just the bed. I am so glad that we did. The room was large with a separate bath and toilet, bedroom with a huge bed and TV; in addition to, the living room with a desk, wardrobe and pull out sofa bed (excuse my Instagram video below as I didn’t take proper photos!). My only feedback is that the bathroom was small, and the bath seemed old compared to the rest of the room. Other than that, the room exceeded our expectations.

The staff at reception were incredibly friendly and helpful. The hotel also offers -20% discount at the ski rental shop near the hotel which was a bonus. Furthermore, if you hired them they would deliver all your equipment to the hotel and place it in a locker located on the ground floor – now that is great service!

We managed to check out the spa area by only looking into the pool area. It looks smaller than on the website, but I think it is great that a hotel in the mountains offered an indoor pool. Unfortunately, given our busy schedule, we did not get to enjoy the facilities. Obviously, I will have to visit again so that I can enjoy the facilities (hint hint). I highly recommend this hotel if you want a home away from home, with a good size room, friendly staff and convenient location. 4.5 out of 5 pineapples!

Where we ate

  • Bartavel – just off the main shopping street, this was a restaurant we found by chance when we first arrived at Chamonix. With a glass terrace and an Italian menu, we thought it would be worth trying; we were hungry by this point, so minimal thinking was involved. The menu is simple and surprisingly yummy. Your usual comfort food was executed well and piping hot (just how I like it). They also seemed to be famous for their ice cream sundaes as well. If you are looking for simple and casual eating, and not for ambience, then totally check them out! 3.75 out 5 pineapples.
  • La Ferme – When in France I always crave crepes and this restaurant was conveniently located right next to the hotel. I loved it so much that my boyfriend was dragged into it twice. I didn’t have their savoury crepes, but the sweet ones were super yummy. I drool as I type this… Small and simple establishment but does what it says well. 3.5 out of 5 pineapples.
  • Josephine – I was initially drawn to the restaurant located in central Chamonix on the edge of a small plaza. It reminded me of Paris and was filled with patrons enjoying the sun. I am a sucker for Parisian Cafes and it was exactly as expected; beautifully tiled floors and lights. We managed to grab a seat by the window, so I could people watch. The menu is not particularly vegetarian-friendly as their speciality was seafood. Nevertheless, the food was good and portions generous. I thought it leaned towards the expensive side, so it only gets 3.25 out of 5 pineapples.
  • Little Boxes – is perfect for a quick bite to eat, their menu is made of pizzas and burgers. Located right by the Chamonix SUD bus station and Aiguille du Midi cable car, it is easy to find. I ordered the veggie burger and it was extremely yummy; though one of the best things were their fries! Nice skin on chunky chips, a perfect remedy against the cold. There is not a lot of seating inside and it got full quick at lunch, but I am not surprised why – the pizzas also looked awesome! 3.75 out of 5 pineapples.

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  • Le Comptoir Nordique – My boyfriend and I were extremely tired after our first snowboarding lesson, so we thought we would give the hotel restaurant a go. It had good reviews and was a bit smarter which suits for a romantic date night. The food was extremely fresh and well done. We had the Nordic Menu which was anything a-la-carte for three courses at €42 per person. We both started off with a selection of salmon and the ribs for mains. Though pricy, I thought it was worth it and was a welcome change to burgers and pasta that we had throughout the rest of the trip. The staff was extremely friendly, and the restaurant was quiet, so we managed to enjoy each other’s company in peace. 4 out 5 pineapples.

Things to try next time 

My boyfriend and I had a wonderful time in Chamonix; I had forgotten how wonderful it was being amongst the mountains and snow. Now that I am back in London and back to the usual routine, I am missing the scenery and planning on when I go back up to the mountains. I would love to spend more time in Chamonix and the following will be on my to-do list:

Hope you found this guide to Chamonix helpful! Have you been before? Do you have any recommendations for me if I go back? As always, I would love to hear from you!

With Sweet & Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken x

 

Travel: Paris

Hey everyone!

I hope you are having a wonderful week so far, the weather has been pretty miserable in London, so it is great that I can reflect on my last long weekend away in Paris in this blog. Taking me back to happier memories.  I am so grateful that I can travel between two very different cities within a space of 2 hours – just gives me the fix I need when I need to get away from London.

Where we stayed

The reason for my trip to Paris this time around was to help my friend move her suitcases from Paris back to London. My manager said that this was a tenuous excuse to travel all the way to Paris, I completely agree, but any excuse to go to Paris! We wanted to stay quite central, and where is better than close to the Galerie LaFayette at The Dream Hotel Opera. Though the location was really convenient, I really do not recommend this hotel. The rooms were clean but the lift is shockingly small. For those who are claustrophobic, I really advise that you either stay on lower floors or find alternative hotels because, for someone who isn’t scared of refined spaces, I was very uncomfortable. Considering how much I paid for the hotel, it was not worth it at all! 2 out of 5 pineapples.

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Day 1: Gastronomy Galore

It was a rather girly weekend where it was filled with food and shopping. The most memorable part of the holiday was going to one of the best Boulangerie I have ever been too – Du Pain et des Idées. It is probably one of the most Instagrammed bakeries in Paris and for good reason. The best pastries I have had and they also do these wonderfully warm savoury rolls. I am salivating as we speak. Honestly, 5 out of 5 pineapplesIt is also conveniently located next to the canals and would be considered the “hipster” part of Paris with quaint boutiques. This is where I bought my first purchase of the trip on Rue de Marseille 🙂 

As we had some time to kill before our picking up my friend’s bag, what is better than continuing eating? We wanted somewhere close to where we were and a quick Google search led us to Le Marine on Quai de Valmy, right by the canals. One thing I love about Paris is they always have a good menu of the day, comforting main and scrumptious desserts. It is your typical Parisienne cafe, with the monochrome tiled floors and super small tables. If you are looking for a quick and affordable bite to eat, I recommend it if you are in the area, but nothing to go out your way for. 3 out of 5 pineapples.

After picking up the suitcases from the French suburbs, we made it back to the hotel… up the super tiny lift and into our .. super small room. As you can imagine, I wanted to get out of the hotel as soon as possible and we made our way to Galeries Lafayette Haussmann. Though it is filled with tourists, it is a beautiful building which I recommend at least seeing once, Just look at the amazing dome below. This was also where I bought my second purchase of the trip, worth the detour to have a look inside, so I give it 3 out of 5 pineapples.

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This weekend was also to celebrate my friend’s birthday and her favourite cuisine is Japanese, so we obviously had to try and find one of the best restaurants in Paris for her! Nodaïwa is a very quaint and zen restaurant near the Louvre that specialises in eel dishes and comes up in nearly every Japanese food guide to Paris. We were luckily able to get a table at 7 pm as it opened. It was a great experience with the staff being super friendly. The menu is limited, so if you aren’t going to enjoy eel, I would not recommend it. We started off with sea bass sashimi and ordered the Sakura set. They were both very well executed and I recommend getting the sashimi – super fresh and a light white fish as a starter. We ended the meal with black sesame ice cream (must order) and their special dessert of the day: Yuzu Soya Panna Cotta (don’t order). Unfortunately, the texture of the pannacotta was gritty because of the soya rather than luxurious creamy jiggle you get with a normal one. I will give it 4 out of 5 pineapples.

Day 2: More Shopping

The best morning starts off with a great breakfast. Conveniently located near the hotel is La Gramont, which I have visited before with family. This is on the main street of Boulevard des Italiens and perfect for people watching. The beautiful terrace of Le Gramont makes it one of my favourite spots in Paris. They do a quaint breakfast – coffee, orange juice, croissant or baguette with confiture (jam) – yum! I was being greedy and ordered scrambled eggs with cheese as well. I am not sure why, but the French seem to enjoy their eggs really “bitty” and lumpy, rather than the smooth texture in the UK. Not sure whether I am a fan, to be honest. Regardless, a lovely little cafe, so it gets 4 out of 5 pineapples.

The remainder of the day was spent wandering the streets around Opera and going high street shopping, where I ended up with my third purchase of the trip. Along the way, my friend mentioned the prettiest Starbucks in Paris (3 Boulevard des Capucines). It was worth making the detour for. The beautiful ceilings and different reading areas and a long working table. Wish we had something like this in London!

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We continued with the Japanese cuisine theme and had a late lunch at Aki. A casual Japanese restaurant specialising in okonomiyaki. I am not a big fan, but they did have other set menus which meant that you can have half portions of soba and rice in one meal – which is a dream. The food is average but the price is reasonable; this is probably why it is a favourite amongst locals often with long queues outside. A casual eatery but nothing special, it gets 2.5 out of 5 pineapples. For dessert, we headed up the street to the bubble tea joint – The Alley. There has been a lot of hype around this brand as seen on my Instagram, but there isn’t one in London, so I was really surprised to see it in Paris. The queue was also long here but seemed to be more reasonable than the ones I have seen in Hong Kong. Is it worth the hype? – definitely, one of the best bubble teas I have tasted. I tried the famous brown sugar bubble tea, whilst my friend got the classic but hot. Not too creamy or sweet, it was super yummy – 4.25 out 5 pineapples.

We continued our shopping journey, to one of the most beautiful places in Paris, Jardin du Palais Royal. Even in winter when there are no leaves on the trees, it is still worth a visit. Surrounding the gardens are these elegant archways with boutiques on the side. Nearby there are also other shops (this is where I bought my fifth and final purchase of the trip 🙂 ).  

We ended the evening walking past the Louvre and along the River Seine, passing the Notre Dame to the Shakespeare & Company bookstore. I highly recommend this route as you see so many beautiful and iconic buildings along the way. I had never been to the bookstore before and I highly recommend it as it is one of the few places to find books in English. However, the feel of the store is really special. The old bookcases and all the various nooks and crannies to hide away. You can understand why it is so famous and also why you see their famous “tote” bag along the streets of Paris. Personally, I think it is a must visit!

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Of course, we had to have dinner, so of course, you need a double crepe dinner! We didn’t have anywhere particular in mind, but Crêperie des Pêcheurs came up after a quick search. It is along a very touristy street, but once you enter a very quaint restaurant, decorated to look like the hull of a ship, with sails on the ceilings. Personally, the savoury crepe was disappointing, but the texture of the sweet crepe (just butter and sugar filling) was super yummy and with Chantilly cream just made it dreamy. Quaint little shop, don’t go out your way to go but if you are in the area, do stop for a sweet crepe! 3.5 out of 5 pineapples.

Day 3: Lunch then homebound

Our Eurostar back to London was in the afternoon, so just in time for a spot of lunch before we left. We wanted to stay close to the hotel for an easy exit. We wanted to go to Le Strogoff but they were already closed for breakfast (11 am), so we walked to Café Le Brebant which had this beautiful interior and terrace. We wanted to enjoy a simple meal and watched the world go by. The service was good, unfortunately, the food was average, so it only gets a 2.5 out of 5 pineapples.

There wasn’t much culture this time around, but I am sure I will be back in Paris soon enough. Where is your favourite place to eat in Paris? Do you have any recommendations for my next visit? As always, I would love to hear from you!

With Sweet & Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken x

 

Travel: Rotterdam

Rotterdam 2019

Hi everyone!

Happy Friday! What wonderful things have you planned for this weekend? Or will it be super relaxing focusing on self-care? Either way, I am very glad that I am finally back on the blog. For those who had seen my recent post, the blog was on pause because I was moving in with my boyfriend!! Thank you for all the well wishes from friends and readers – I was extremely grateful for all the messages.

I am not going to lie, the past week has been a bit of a rollercoaster! I had forgotten how stressful moving can be and I do not think I managed my own expectations and the change appropriately. The move in day coincided with one of the most sociable time of the year for me because of Chinese New Year and as a result, this has meant I have not actually spent much time in my new home.

HAPPY LUNAR NEW YEAR. 

May the Year of the Pig bring everyone good health, positivity, good luck and prosperity!

I am really excited to share with you my weekend away to Rotterdam with my sister.

Where we stayed

The James Hotel is a three-star boutique hotel. It looked like it had been newly renovated, with a sleek contemporary design. My sister and I shared a twin room, which was luckily upgraded to a larger room. I was extremely chuffed, however, we realised a large room does not the size of the bed changed! They seemed to be particularly small, which was a bit odd. I would recommend others to book a king size bedroom instead of twin beds.

They also seemed to have sprayed quite a distinctive “perfume” into the rooms, so if you have a sensitive nose, this might not be the place for you.  Despite this, it was conveniently located around good restaurants and the shopping district so there was a lot to see! I would recommend the hotel mainly for the location, cleanliness and friendly staff. (3 out of 5 pineapples)

Museum Voorlinden

The raison d’etre for going all the way to Rotterdam was to visit Museum Voorlinden. Noted that museum was actually nowhere near Rotterdam but in the Hague; and that my sister and I decided to fly all the way to London to visit this place – you can imagine how high my expectations were.

I was actually blown away – I had such an amazing time that I would fly back to Rotterdam just to see what other exhibitions they might hold in the future. Currently, they have two exhibitions, in addition, to their permanent collection:

  1. Less is More (until November 2019)
  2. Armando (until 10th March)

I highly recommend the Less is More exhibition, I have taken a few pictures of my favourite pieces (check out my Instagram feed) including Alicja Kwade Trans-For-Men 8 (Fibonacci), 2018. Brilliantly curated and just shown in such a wonderful space. The architecture of the building meant that there was a wonderful light flowing into each room.

My sister and I really wanted to see Leandro Erlich’s Swimming Pool which specially designed for Voorlinden. As the museum was not crowded, we managed to have at least 20 minutes taking photos with this wonderful art piece which would have been IMPOSSIBLE in London. This piece of art was such a tranquil space, so much so that I was wondering how I could have my own little pool at home so I could have a zen room hehe 😉 (It continues to be a dream).

I had a wonderful time – flying to Rotterdam and going to the museum really made my trip! (5 out of 5 pineapples)

Tip: If I was to visit again, I think I would stay in the Hague, there is a lot more to see and I found it much prettier than Rotterdam. 

What we did

  • Markthal – This is a food hall very conveniently close to the shopping area in the Cool District. There are a variety of stalls ranging from seafood to Indonesian food to Tapas. There is something for everyone, however, it did get very crowded in the evening. Personally, because of all the choice, it was very difficult to decide on what to have. I recommend going there with a cuisine or dish in mind, or you might end up wandering aimlessly like me. There was a dessert shop which sold Poffertjes – these amazingly buttery and sugary mini pancakes. They were SOOO GOOD – definitely try some whilst you are out there! (2.5 out of 5 pineapples)
  • Cube Houses – I am not sure why this is a recommended destination on most guides for Rotterdam. These are located right next to Markthal, so whilst you are there, why not go to see it but don’t expect anything special! (1 out of 5 pineapples)

Where we ate

  • The Fish Market – very chilled out vibes and an extensive seafood menu. Everything was very fresh and well executed. The portions were also very large, so I recommend ordering to share, or if you can go with a big group that would be even better! 3 out of 5 pineapples
  • Dudok – turns out there are few Dudok cafes in Rotterdam/Hague. There is one about 3 minutes from our hotel. We went there for breakfast on Saturday morning and it turns out that everyone else thought the same idea. Super popular with a mixed crowd. It was slightly odd that people seemed to have cake and coffee in the morning, but I could understand why because the apple pie is to a must try! 3 out of 5 pineapples
  • Restaurant Napoli – it was a cold weekend so wanted a bit of comfort food. This small little Italian place was SUPER busy, that we were only able to get a reservation on Saturday for 8:30pm. Delicious comfort food particularly if you are in a pasta mood – highly recommend this bustling restaurant. 3.5 out of 5 pineapples
  • by Jarmusch – American style diner that is super popular for brunch – great pancakes and had an awesome veggie breakfast. Expect there to be a relatively long wait, but was a great way to start the day! 3.5 out of 5 pineapples. 

Until next time

Rotterdam is filled with so much more to see. I didn’t even cover 20% of the locations I had on my google maps. I would have wanted to spend more time in the Hague, so next time I think I will stay there. The weekend trip was a great taster of what Rotterdam has to offer. As mentioned previously, I would go back just for Museum Voorlinden so I might use that time to wander around this more, and maybe not in winter because it was constantly raining whilst we were there!

Have any of you been to Rotterdam before? What do you think I should do next time whilst I am there? As always, I would love to hear from you!

With Sweet & Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken x

 

 

Travel: Malta

malta jan 2019

Hi Everyone!

I hope you are well and had a wonderful weekend 🙂 It has been personally a stressful week and I have been struggling with quite a lot of different emotions. It isn’t an excuse but ultimately this has meant I could not keep with the posting schedule I set out at the beginning of the year.

I had such high hopes that I would be able to stick to a bi-weekly post, but I think Christine Rai (@yeahitschill) summarised it perfectly with her Instagram post. I am going to forgive myself and I think I will discuss the topic of resilience later on, as part of my self-discovery this year.

Alas! You are not here to read about all the above, I am very excited to share my weekend trip with my boyfriend to Malta! For those who have been following my blog, would know that I did not travel out this Christmas so we decided that we would start the year with a BANG and go away.

Where we stayed

I did some prior research to the trip and many different blogs recommend St. Julian’s as a place to stay rather than the old town of Valetta. I wanted to stay somewhere I could enjoy the sea, so it seemed like a good choice. It is a resort area rather than the cultural UNESCO town of Valetta. Luckily, St Julian’s is only around a 20-minute car ride away from the city centre, so I thought that wasn’t too bad in terms of distance/getting around. We stay at the Westin Dragonara Resort; my initial reaction was it was a huge hotel and had a Wes Anderson feel to it. It was painted this wonderful pink and white on the outside – which I LOVED!

Ignore the baby cot in the picture, they just put it in our room by mistake! 

Tip: When booking hotels I always request a higher room because normally the more expensive rooms (such as suites) are located on the top or penultimate floors. If you want to enjoy the “same view”/amenities but not the price, asking for higher floors is a great way to do this.

This time it really worked out because the hotel was in the process of renovation and we ended up with a newly decorated room and floor. The most basic rooms are HUGE!!! With a super king size bed, desk and sofa space; a massive closet and a good size bathroom. Perfect for a resort type of holiday, where you might be spending more time in your bedroom relaxing. The choice suited us because we wanted to use this weekend to recover from the festive period with family. This is distinctively a different kind of holiday than my usual where I pack it full of stuff to do and exhaust myself. The hotel has an indoor heated pool and a big gym as well (but I can’t tell you whether it was amazing or not because we didn’t manage to get to see it…too busy relaxing hehe).

What we did 

Admittedly, we didn’t have that much time in Malta, so we had to try and make the best of it for the only one full day we were there. We didn’t hire a car but we did see the double-decker sightseeing buses, so I thought that would be a good idea for an introduction to the island. There are three companies in Malta, but we chose Citysightseeing because our hotel was a stop on their route, which made it very convenient. We purchase the €20 day pass each, which is pretty reasonable, especially compared to London transport.

This is not my usual way of travelling but given my limited time and I didn’t want to do too much planning, this was a nice in between. There is a North & South route which the ticket allowed us to travel on. We opted for the South route which stopped in Valetta and also to travelled to Marsaxlokk fishing village and the Blue Grotto.

  • Valetta – We stopped at the Valetta waterfront, which was beautiful! I highly recommend stopping there to look at the sea and the beautiful Barrakka gardens.
  • Marsaxlokk fishing village – We only drove past this on the bus but I regret not stopping off. It is super picturesque! If I was to go back, I would definitely have an ice-cream by the sea and watch the beautiful fishing boats bob in the water.
  • Blue Grotto – Learn from our mistake, go early in the morning and preferably not in the middle of winter. By the time we arrived at 14:30, the last fishing boat was departing. I was unable to convince my boyfriend to join because of the choppy waters, which was a shame. It will have wait until next time.

Where we ate 

  • For a really cosy Italian restaurant with great seafood, I highly recommend Storie e Sapori. We had fresh lobster linguine with clams and it was so delicious! The people are wonderfully friendly and I think was reasonably price given the quality of food.
  • We also tried Palio’s restaurant at the Westin. Again, the food was amazing quality and fresh. Though casual and probably not a usual place for date night, I think it is worth trying. Highly recommend the ribs.

Short but sweet

I was sad to leave on Sunday morning back to London. Malta did have a bit of everything, culture, nature, friendly people and good food. It was a short trip but a very sweet one. Next time, I will visit when it is warmer and for longer.

I hope you found this guide helpful. Have you ever been to Malta before? Would you recommend anything I should try next time I go?  As always, would love to hear from you, so leave a comment below. For more pictures, do check out my Instagram!

Sweet & Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken x

 

 

 

Travel: Edinburgh Day 1

Hi Everyone, I hope you are all having a wonderful week and looking for the weekend. This is not my usual posting day, but I have managed to find some quiet time from my hectic schedule the past few weeks to share with you all the adventures that I have.

This one is just an introduction to my weekend getaway with my sister to Edinburgh. It has taken so long to write this post because I don’t think how I can do this beautiful city justice. I believe there is a reason why it is the most visited city after London! Let’s dive into Day 1 of our trip!

I landed late in the evening in Edinburgh due to delay to our flight and not enough staff handling suitcases from our flight. Turns out that this is a regular occurrence, so for those that are planning to go to Edinburgh and had plans after you land, I suggest that you leave ample time!

Novotel Hotel, Edinburgh Centre

Thankfully, the airport is not far from the city centre, where we stayed at Hotel Novotel Edinburgh Centre (note that there are two branches, the other closer to the airport). I really do not recommend this hotel at all. Though location wise, it is great and the lobby recently refurbished. I thought the rooms and bathroom had a lot of wear and tear. Definitely not worth the money we paid for the room, therefore, I highly recommend that you try and other hotel than this one. It is located right next to a Premier Inn…I think I might have been better off there!

Other than my poor accommodation choice, the rest of the city is beautiful and the people are so friendly! My sister and I also had great luck with the weather – mostly sunshine with only a spattering of rain! None of my Scottish friends and colleagues back in London believed me when I told them!

All things Harry Potter….

On the first day, we started off just walking through town, where we found Grassmarket Square with a few stalls. It is located right at the foot of Edinburgh Castle, for someone who has never been to Scotland before (despite being British), this was really phenomenal and exciting! We didn’t manage to pick up anything along the stalls, but we kept walking and arrived at Victoria Street.

For those that may not know, this is probably one of the most photograph streets, with its colourful facades and cobbled streets. As I climbed up the hill, it is no surprise how J.K. Rowling might have been inspired by it for Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter series. Each individual shop had these beautiful displays of tweed, and little bookstores crammed next to another shop. So dreamy!

For all my fellow HP fans out there, you have to visit Diagon House, which sells all things Harry Potter. I am not 100% sure whether all the merchandise in there is official but all the trinkets and beautiful displays, really makes it worth while! There is also another branch on Cockburn Street.

Royal Mile

Despite Victoria street being so famous, it is one of the shortest streets! So do not expect that it will take long at all to walk through, though it is just around the corner from the Royal Mile, this is where you see all the hustle and bustle! With large groups of tourists disembarking from coaches. Though crowded during the weekend I was there, it still managed to retain its charm and it is the number 1 place to go to pick up a souvenir!

Whilst at the Royal Mile, we stepped in St. Giles’ Cathedral, which is famous for its fine selection of stained glass windows. For all photographers, please be aware that there is a £2 charge to take photos whether from your mobile or camera. I don’t often take pictures of the inside of churches (exception being The Sagrada Familia, Barcelona), therefore I do not have photos to share with you but I highly recommend to step into this lovely cathedral, which is free for all.

Rollo

Given the wonderful weather, we decided to walk all the way out of the city centre towards Stockbridge for our first meal in Edinburgh. Before flying from London, I was doing a lot of research to where I could have a nice meal without breaking the bank. One name that came up was Rollo. It is a boutique family run restaurant and for adults only. Not only has it received wonderful reviews about the food, but also famous for its super chic design. This comes to no surprise given that it is owned by three partners George Rollo – Architect, Alison Rollo – Sculptor, Ailsa Rollo – Fashion Designer.

I loved the atmosphere in there and truly one of the most outstanding service I have had in a long while. I enjoyed the food though was not blown away. It is difficult to pin down the cuisine, as it was was fusion of many cuisines but mainly west meets east. I have to admit that their non-vegetarian options were a lot more exciting than my pumpkin gnocchi. Nevertheless, I think it is worth seriously considering if you are in town and looking for a place to eat. (3 out of 5 pineapples!)

The Royal Botanical Gardens

Before heading away from Stockbridge, down the road from Rollo, we found this amazingly cute store – Life Story (on London Street) which I think everyone should stop by if they love things for the home! It had such a great collection of home ware which is mainly Scandinavian inspired (think white marble and slate coloured bowls). Really loved the vibe in there! Highly recommended if you like stores such as the Conran Shop in London.

To make most of the sunshine, we walked all the way to the Royal Botanical Garden. As I have gotten older, I have found myself wanting the to connect with nature more and my love for anything green has grown. The Royal Botanical Gardens satisfied ALL those needs. I can’t express how beautiful this place is. If you ever go to Edinburgh, I personally think this is a MUST visit place and that includes paying tickets to go into glass houses. There is no point otherwise. For those who follow me on instagram, you might have seen a few of these leafy greens on my feed. It is so wonderful to walk around the gardens, they had a pond where we managed to spot a few ducklings too. A definite 5 out of 5 pineapples from me!

I think that is enough an update from me today! Can’t wait to share with you my adventures for Day 2. Have a wonderful weekend everyone!!!

With Sweet and Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken