3 of the Best Budapest Museums

Tags

, , , , ,

For Pumpkin and I, this year has been the year of returns. Long before we met, we were both eager explorers, continually yearning for new experiences but reaching quite contrasting destinations in the process. Pumpkin’s voyages comprised of multiple, long-haul, solo travel experiences, involving hikes in the Himalayas, sky dives in Australia, bungee jumps in Zambia and a limitless sense of adventure.

My journeys were a little less life-threatening in nature, more weighted towards cultural city breaks in Europe, palm fringed beaches in Mauritius, and tuk tuk tours in Thailand. Many a long afternoon in the dating stage of our relationship would be spent listening to each other’s travel tales and wondering where we could discover together.

Chain Bridge Budapest

Rediscovering Budapest

We soon learned the world is an enormous place and whilst he still hasn’t been to Rome or Barcelona and I still haven’t been to Cambodia or Namibia, we have endeavoured to spend the last few years pursuing new destinations together. We got soaked at the Iguazu Falls in Brazil, gazed in adoration at the orangutans in Borneo, snorkelled with sea turtles in Barbados and shoals of colourful fish in the Maldives.

Iguazu Falls view from Brazil

Iguazu Falls

We slept in a tea factory in Sri Lanka and marvelled at geysers in Iceland but in the last year, we have found ourselves returning to countries that at least one of us has already visited, with the goal of experiencing it entirely differently with our spouse in tow.

For Pumpkin, that was a revisit to Japan and for me, it meant accompanying him to one of my favourite European cities – Budapest. Nearly a decade had gone by since I travelled there and I was excited to see how the Hungarian capital had changed, to retrace my steps through the key tourist attractions and discover some newer, more quirky experiences on this second visit.

Budapest Pinball Museum

Flipper Museum, Budapest

Fortunately, Budapest has no shortage of historical intrigue even for the return visitor and aside from the key sights I had seen last time, this year, I found myself visiting 3 of Budapest’s best museums and parks and some of the quirky and most unique museums that we had seen anywhere in the world.

top attractions Budapest

Relics of Hungarian History at Statue Park

Budapest’s Best Museums

The Pinball Museum

When most people seek out cultural exploits in European cities, they look for historical sites, art galleries and establishments devoted to the performing arts. When Pumpkin seeks out cultural exploits, we end up playing arcade games at the Flipper Pinball Museum.😀

fun quirky museums Budapest Hungary

Continue reading

The Bobbi Brown Afternoon Tea at Balthazar London

Tags

, , , , ,

If my sister was ever to give up her day job, I have no doubt that the world would quite rapidly gain a shiny new cake-maker, jewellery-curator or make-up artist extraordinaire. She may not be a blogger or writer but her list of artistic talents far extends mine. For her loved ones, this means slab upon slab of home-baked loaf cakes and sumptuous fresh lunches and for me, specifically, it means a free makeover every time she and I go anywhere together.

Bobbi Brown Afternoon Tea Balthazar

Cut from the same cloth, she too hates to waste her annual leave but she’s less for the foreign escapades and more for the London foodie ones. So it was no surprise that she was the first of us to hear of the creative, new make-up inspired afternoon tea hitting London this summer – the highly anticipated Bobbi Brown Afternoon Tea at Balthazar London.

Continue reading

A Port Wine Tour in Douro Valley, Portugal

Tags

, , , , ,

As a woman submerged in a cosmopolitan city that (mostly) fuses communities and multiple ethnic origins, the concept of a life without cultural diversity feels uninspired and barren. Demographic trends in the UK have come a long way since the 1970s, when my Mum tells me she would have to travel in excess of an hour before she came even close to finding a shop that sold the spices she needed to cook the staples she had grown up with.

Douro Valley Wine Tour Travel Blog

A Day Tour from Porto to Douro Valley

Here in London, within just a one mile radius of my home, I can point you towards an Italian deli or a Polish supermarket and I can locate the pandan essence that I bought frantically in a Singapore supermarket, hoping to engage in some Asian-inspired baking without realising it was available minutes away from home in Greenwich.

The truth is, I live in such a multi-ethnic society that it is quite possible to travel the world, metaphorically, without ever owning a passport. I had sampled Parma ham long before I had heard of Italy’s Parma region. I had cravings for dulce de leche long before visiting Argentina and I came to know of Port wine decades earlier than I did Porto, a colourful city in Northern Portugal.

Port wine tasting Douro Valley

My earliest memory of seeing Port was at primary school, when I recall a my friends’ fathers receiving bottles for Christmas, beautifully encased in oblong wooden caskets.

I didn’t drink then (I was seven after all) though not much has changed even with the acquisition of years, which makes it all the more strange that Pumpkin and I decided to devote one of our precious two and a half days in Porto to head out on a wine tour of the Douro Valley. As the world’s first demarcated wine region, we were promised awe-inspiring views and a memorable day of Port tasting.

Douro Valley Boat Ride

So would I recommend it, even to the teetotal among you? I categorically would, as I now believe the UNESCO World Heritage Douro Valley is one of Europe’s best kept secrets.

Continue reading

A Review of Pamela’s Restaurant and Cocktail Bar, Great Yarmouth

Tags

, , , , , ,

If you earn in a city like Paris, New York or London, if you live the 13-hour-day-at the-office routine, whereby eating out is almost the easier option and if you have even a whiff of interest in global cuisine, I suspect your journey into the world of food snobbery will be a speedy, effortless and seamless one. It is easy for those of us who live not just in geographical capitals but also food capitals of the world to forget that the genius of food craft is not confined to our cities. London’s leading and award-winning chefs did not fall out of their mothers’ wombs in the glitzy kitchens of Michelin starred restaurants.

They, like us, had a variety of backgrounds and upbringings, grafted to try and perfect their chosen art form and found themselves in institutions they are passionate about as a result.

Pamela's Restaurant Great Yarmouth

Pamela’s Restaurant Great Yarmouth

Throughout the United Kingdom, in other cities, towns, villages and households, budding and established masterchefs are lurking behind unassuming doors, proudly dishing up their signature plates with aesthetic artistry and polished, professional service, bringing the joy of the fine dining experience to communities all over the country.

Pamela's Cocktail Bar Restaurant Review

Pamela’s Restaurant – Fine Dining in Great Yarmouth

Pamela’s Cocktail Bar and Restaurant in Great Yarmouth is one such place and we discovered it earlier this month when we ventured over to the Suffolk seaside to celebrate my father in law’s birthday.

silver service luxury dining East Anglia

My in-laws have lived in this area for well over three decades and Pumpkin’s earliest memories all stem from this region, yet it was Trip Advisor that led us to this elegant restaurant near the seaside. Love or hate Trip Advisor, there is no denying that there are some restaurant gems just waiting to be uncovered on it, if you can face sifting through the reams of subjective and often polar reviews.

restaurant scallop starter

Succulent Starter Scallops at Pamela’s

I rarely write specific restaurant reviews – travel writing alone keeps me busy a-plenty and there are more than enough food bloggers out there who do a far better job of the food chat than I ever could. But I simply couldn’t resist showing you what we found at Pamela’s and I hope that if you think of, hear of or visit Great Yarmouth one day, aside from the images of beach huts and fish and chips on the pier, you will also remember to look up Pamela’s.

Rum Baba Dessert Rose Pistachio

Rum baba with Rose Petals, Pistachio & Rose Ice Cream at Pamela’s

Continue reading

Travel Tips for Japan

Tags

, , , , , ,

A practical tips post…now there’s a domain I never would have imagined myself entering when I first started blogging. I’m forever grateful to those of you who follow along regularly, especially since I know my own particular flavour of writing is a bit of an acquired taste – long, essay-like sheets of prose, an ad hoc posting schedule that sees my articles emerging at best once a week and at worst, once a month. The truth is that those who know this blog best will know that brief, punchy articles, which get straight to the point, just ain’t my cup of tea. I’m no good at them and even when I try (case in point right here), I fail.

Once a rambler, always a rambler.

Bullet Train Travel Japan

Why then am I taking a change of direction this week to give you a post stuffed full of the kind of practicalities and logistics that have no place in the heart of a fairytale-loving dreamer?

It’s because, in reality, to make these travel pipe dreams come true, you do need some planning, all the more so when travelling somewhere as alien to your own culture, language and way of life as Japan was to Pumpkin and I.

travelling Japan Lonely Planet

My man did more than 98% of the planning for our trip so I’ll get the marital disclaimers out the way nice and early in this post by thanking him for that so I can get on with sharing some of the handiest tips we he found  :D

Continue reading

10 Reasons to Love Greenwich and Blackheath, London

Tags

, , , , ,

Anyone who knows me well will know that the city of London is firmly entrenched in my heart. It’s not just home, it’s my past, my present and (hopefully) my future and I got lucky in finding a man en route, who moved here for work a decade ago but ended up more taken with the city than I am.

I cringe at sounding all Carrie Bradshaw New York City about it but I speak the truth when I tell you that life in London is a dream realised .

Greenwich London highlights blog

I grew up in the suburbs outside London in a peaceful and leafy part of the country that fringes the city, so near yet felt so far from the city I yearned to experience. When university applications came, I had to select four choices – I gave all my allocations to London universities and after I graduated, I worked my backside off to bag myself a London job.

London blogs

Yes yes, I know you get nada for your money living hre and that the air will always be just a little lot more polluted and yes, I am not oblivious to the ugly, unforgiving sides of London but this month’s link up topic is about home – and this is mine.

Greenwich London Highlights

Greenwich Views

So how do you immortalise half a lifetime’s worth of memories and moments of a city into one blog post? Simple answer is you don’t so I won’t even attempt it. Instead, this post about the home within homeBlackheath and Greenwich a little pocket of South East London that even many Londoners are yet to visit. Until I met Pumpkin who was living in this ‘hood, I myself had never explored the area so if you aren’t yet familiar with this part of London Town, here are 10 reasons why I love Greenwich and Blackheath so much.

Greenwich and Blackheath Highlights

Continue reading

A Day Trip from Tokyo to Mount Fuji Shibazakura Festival

Tags

, , , , ,

It rained on our June wedding day, neither torrentially nor offensively. Just a purring trickle, the kind that drips repetitively, pitter patter pitter patter pitter patter from the orifice of a neglected tap, sufficiently audible to the ears of the undistracted, failing short of a genuine irritant.

It was hardly a Shakespearean tragedy – all seasoned UK dwellers carry brollies year round. I was predictably told that it wouldn’t matter, that the day would be perfect regardless but those well-meaning yet anticipated words did little to appease my pre-wedding angst.

Pink Moss Flowerss Japan

Then, the day came.

It rained – from start to finish in one form or another.

And it was perfect.

seasonal spring Japan Tours April May

Pretty in Pink

The nervous bride back then would hardly have believed that it would eventually become a topic of light humour.

day trip to Mount Fuji from Tokyo

An Idyllic Rainy Day by Mount Fuji

These days, when submerged under grey canopies and droplets on the patio, we rarely whinge; rather we find ourselves laughing wryly about how ”this weather is just like our wedding day,” the pregnant clouds bringing laughter to us in the most unexpected of ways.

The Shibazakura Festival Japan

The Fuji Shiba Sakura Festival

Following our big day though, the weather lords showed repentance. We flew to the Maldives in wet season; it rained the entirety of the week before our arrival but we were granted five days of flawless blue skies and shallow lagoons where fish would wade alongside us. We travelled to Borneo in wet season for 10 days. We had one evening of rain only, which started ferociously within minutes of us returning to our lodge after an entire day spent outdoors on a river safari, where we were completely at the mercy of the elements.

Japan blossom season

A Day Trip to Mount Fuji from Tokyo

One particular day in Japan this April however, it seemed we had played the last of our climate trump cards. After a few days of delightful springtime sunshine in Tokyo, we drew the curtains in our hotel room one morning to find a city bathed in fog. Ironically, it was the one day, above all others, that we were seeking clear skies because we were off to see (or not see) Mount Fuji.

Mount Fuji one day tour

First Sight of Mount Fuji

Continue reading

A Theatrical Stay at Hotel Teatro Porto

Tags

, , , , ,

When I decided to treat Pumpkin (and of course myself!) to a long weekend in Porto as a wedding anniversary celebration and I started putting some feelers out as to which hotel the travel community would recommend, the one name that kept recurring time and again was the Hotel Teatro. Repetitive soundbites included “quirky” and “funky” and it seems the elusive Mr and Mrs Smith also agreed.

Hotel Teatro Porto rooms

The city breaks that Pumpkin and I go on are typically jam-packed affairs, racking up some impressive mileage (I’m talking on foot not mid-air) and rarely leaving time to lounge around in hotels so truth be told, for most of my short-haul city breaks, I tend not to get too preoccupied with hotels. But on this occasion with so many comments coming my way about Hotel Teatro, curiosity took over and I couldn’t help but investigate.

Portugal best hotels

Continue reading

A Dreamy Luxury Honeymoon at Breezes Beach Club & Spa, Zanzibar

Tags

, , , ,

I hate to be a cliché and to fall into an unoriginal, predictable mould but whenever I am asked which of my world ventures I have found the most spine-tingling and which journey cast the greatest “was I really there” shadow, I have never needed more than a moment’s reflection.

luxury romantic hotel Zanzibar

I once thought there could be no answer other than the first time I stepped off the train in Manhattan, armed with my first pay packet, sandwiched between skyscrapers, knowing I had finally arrived in New York City, a destination I had always dreamed of.

The Perito Moreno Glacier in Patagonia, in all its lucent splendour will always remain a serious contender for the title. And more recently, the confetti-like layers of fragrant cherry blossoms, as they retired for the season, harmoniously layered on the soils of Tokyo’s tranquil gardens left a genuine and un-exaggerated longing to return to a country within just moments of arriving home.

Honeymoon Zanzibar Breezes

It was our honeymoon though, our off the beaten track luxury safari in Tanzania followed by a week of proud and unashamed laziness on the beaches of Zanzibar, that harbours the most treasured and intangible memories of all. The details are crisp in my mind and yet a tiny corner of me still struggles to truly believe we were there.

luxury Africa safari beach honeymoon

Did we really have to crouch to get into a miniscule plane that landed in a dirt track somewhere in the vast expanses of Selous Game Reserve? Did we genuinely come face to face with a giant hippo on land that had seemingly just been in a fight? Was the sand genuinely so white? Did I really stack my breakfast plate with passion fruit halves that were larger the size of my fist and play Scrabble on a sun lounger with my new husband whilst listening to the soothing sound of the waves?

Continue reading

Spanish Afternoon Tea at Ametsa with Arzak Instruction, Halkin Hotel

Do you remember when you were a child and you had one favourite treat that never lost its allure no matter how many times over you experienced it?

For me, living through the scorching dry heat of the Middle Eastern summers, nothing was more sought after than a flawless cold sphere of Baskin Robbins’ pistachio almond ice cream, which we found at a mall a short drive away from the apartment we lived in.

Spanish afternoon tea

Like most good parents though, mine taught me that treats were for special occasions, as rewards or as gifts and not just part of a daily routine. Indeed, treat yourself to the treat too often and it no longer feels like a treat – which is exactly what (I thought) had happened to me with afternoon tea.

luxury novelty afternoon tea

After years of indulging in this decadent dining experience during my London escapades, I was feeling a little clotted creamed out and had a recent (almost) year long hiatus from my afternoon tea habit.

Until now.

London Travel Blogger

It was inevitable, I suppose, but last week, I finally fell off the wagon with an afternoon tea invitation that promised Michelin Star dining, Chelsea Flower Show inspired floral cocktails (and mocktails) and a crater sized berth from the norm. My inner afternoon-tea addict never stood a chance.

Chelsea flower show cocktails Halkin Hotel

Afternoon Tea at Ametsa with Arzak  Instruction at the Halkin Hotel

Continue reading

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,213 other followers